El Salvador: 3 million users Chivo wallet, discount on gasoline and bitcoin mining with volcanoes

President Bukele of El Salvador said that the Chivo wallet now has 3 million users and that international transactions worth $ 1 million are made every day. To further encourage use, everyone who pays with Chivo will now receive a discount at gas stations. Meanwhile, Bukele shared images of a mining farm that runs on sustainable electricity generated from the heat of volcanoes.

Anyone who pays with the Chivo wallet at a gas station in El Salvador will now receive a discount on the price of gasoline of $0.20 per gallon (3.79 liters), President Nayib Bukele announced.

Gasoline prices in El Salvador have risen sharply in recent months and are currently at about $3.80 per gallon, about 40% higher than at the beginning of the year.

Bukele negotiated the discount with the gas stations to mitigate the rising prices, he explained. The discount applies indefinitely to every consumer and all companies that pay with Chivo.


Chivo is the government’s bitcoin wallet, with which you can make or receive both bitcoin and dollar payments. It uses Bitcoin’s Lightning Network making transactions lightning fast and virtually free. Exchanging dollars to bitcoin and vice versa is free of charge via Chivo.

Bukele had the wallet designed to facilitate the adoption of bitcoin among the population in the context of the new bitcoin law. Since that law came into effect in September, bitcoin has been legal tender in El Salvador and El Salvadorans are required to accept it as payment.

The government is doing everything it can to encourage the use of bitcoin and especially the Chivo wallet. Every El Salvadoran could get $30 worth of Bitcoin for free through the Chivo wallet, and hundreds of Bitcoin ATMs were installed across the country. Bitcoin profits are also exempt from tax in El Salvador. The discount on the petrol price seems to be the latest incentive to promote the wallet.

3 million users

The strategy seems to be working. A month after the launch, there are already more than 3 million users of the Chivo wallet, Bukele announced via Twitter. An average of 180 new users were added every minute. El Salvador has a total population of about 6.5 million people.

According to Bukele, one million dollars worth of international payments are made every day via the Chivo wallet. If the numbers are correct, that is not a small amount. Of a total of about $ 6 billion in annual international transfers, the Chivo wallet would already account for a few percent.

El Salvadorans normally pay a lot of commission on international transfers, sometimes tens of percent. Bukele therefore believes that his country can save $400 million annually with the help of Bitcoin and Lightning. Transactions via Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, which is used by the Chivo wallet, are virtually free.

To assure

However, not everyone is happy with the initiatives. Last month, several thousand protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against Bukele and the bitcoin law, including setting fire to a Chivo ATM.

Opponents accuse Bukele of dictatorial tendencies and wonder who pays for the costs, and whether that comes from their pockets. Despite this, Bukele is still very popular among El Salvadorans; he enjoys the support of about 80% of the population.

Concerns are also being expressed from the bitcoin community. The mandatory acceptance of bitcoin payments is not to everyone’s taste and the Chivo wallet is also a custodial bitcoin wallet where you do not have access to the private keys. Normal bitcoin wallets can be used in El Salvador, but users do not receive any extra incentives.

Bitcoin mining with volcanoes

The plans to do bitcoin mining with sustainable electricity generated from the heat of volcanoes also seem to be being followed up. Bukele announced a few months ago that he was investigating the possibility, and recently shared video footage of volcanoes and engineers tinkering with mining equipment.

Last week it appeared that the first bitcoins have now been mined. Bukele shared an overview of the first mining revenues via Twitter, saying that this is still a first test. At that time, the proceeds were 0.00599179 BTC, worth about $265 dollars.

Read more about the bitcoin adoption in El Salvador in one of our previous articles or watch VICE’s short documentary to get an idea.


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