Part two of thee of the From The Ground reports based on Stephen DeLorme’s phenomenal work. Here’s the first edition, but let’s recap. DeLorme is a designer who’s got a grant from Spiral BTC to work with the Bitcoin Design Community. They produced the outstanding Bitcoin Design Guide. He’s also a caring human who asked Salvadorans the questions that the media won’t touch. His series of articles got the information we didn’t know we needed about El Salvador’s Bitcoin experiment. And here it goes.
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DeLorme Pays For Coffee With Bitcoin
The big international chains were the first to figure out how to successfully receive Bitcoin payments. We’ve seen videos from every El Salvador visitor and their grandmothers paying for a cup of coffee through The Lightning Network. DeLorme’s observations, however, provide new insights. He declares Starbucks “one of the most seamless Bitcoin user experiences I had has thus far.” Of course, they didn’t use the Chivo Wallet. They used the Guatemalan payment solution, IBEX Mercado.
Now, check out this alpha he gives us:
“IBEX Mercado appears to use Lightning as its default. Interesting to note what appears to be a Chivo logo in the info bar at top of the cashier’s UI. They may be running Chivo on the same phone. One person has told me that for merchants running more than wallet, if you look Salvadoreño, the cashier will most likely present you with Chivo; if you look like a foreigner, they will most likely present you with IBEX.”
This has nothing to do with discrimination. Only Salvadorans can use the Chivo Wallet, and the system seems to work when it’s Chivo to Chivo. On the other hand, when a foreigner approaches they know that he’s going to use any other Lightning Wallet, so Starbucks whips out IBEX Mercado’s payment solution. Pretty clever, if you think about it. A way to navigate the mess of the first few months, until everything settles down.
Paying For Fast Food With Bitcoin
When it was time for lunch, Stephen DeLorme went to Dennis. This time, the experience wasn’t nearly as smooth. After a few hilarious scenes, much confusion, and several wallets, this happened:
“Having experienced the dollars QR code once before, I knew this wouldn’t be LN or BTC compatible, so I pulled out Strike to see if it (by chance) would work. The “Pay” functionality in Strike is not compatible with Chivo’s dollar QR code, so this seems to be a Chivo only feature.”
DeLorme manages to get Dennis’ employee to switch to Bitcoin and pay with Strike… they end up charging him twice because the Chivo Wallet doesn’t register the payment at first. And then, this happens:
“They opened the cash drawer and gave me a refund in cash. Why is that? Does Chivo app not offer a “refund” function? That’s a little frustrating that the Chivo app doesn’t automatically refresh when a payment is pending.”
So, once again, the Chivo Wallet is the one causing the problem.
BTC price chart for 12/07/2021 on Bittrex | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com
DeLorme Goes To The Market, Supermarket, And Mall
The next day, DeLorme goes to San Salvador’s Centro Histórico. There’s an outdoor marketplace there. What did he find? Or better yet, what didn’t he find?
“I did not find any “Aceptamos Bitcoin” signs. This was definitely a largely cash-based market. Fortunately, cell phone signal was decent in the area, so Bitcoin is an option here.”
Then, he goes to the mall. Once again, almost nobody accepts Bitcoin yet. And people were worried about Article 7’s implications. But back to DeLorme’s text:
“I then went over to the MetroCentro mall and wandered for a bit. “Aceptamos Bitcoin” signs are few and far between. I saw a homemade sign at a t-shirt vendor’s booth, as well as some official Chivo ones.”
At the supermarket, DeLorme witness a sad story. A couple can’t figure out how to pay with the Chivo wallet and leaves “the store without their groceries.” Apparently, the man forgot some kind of pin number. “It was sad to watch. It was a somewhat small order, about $10.”
Then, DeLorme enters a store called Dollarcity, in which they once again charge him twice. For the same reason.
“I paid on-chain using Strike wallet here. After about 30 seconds, her device had no indication that my payment was received. She guided me towards attempting to perform the transaction again.”
This time, they don’t give him a refund. It’s not out of malice, but out of confusion. The whole Bitcoin system is new to them, the Chivo Wallet is malfunctioning, and there’s also the language barrier. Luckily, that doesn’t stop DeLorme from making a genuine connection. This was at Wendy’s at lunchtime.
Related Reading | From The Ground: The “Bitcoin In El Salvador” Documentary, What Did We Learn?
“A local man in line behind me saw me paying in Bitcoin and approached me to ask about it. We spoke for a few minutes while waiting in line, and then after we ate as we were both leaving.
I explained that I was here researching how people are using the technology. I asked him how he felt about Bitcoin. He said that at first it just seemed like a political thing to him, but once he saw the value of Bitcoin rising, it made sense to him as a potential investment.”
So, the hunger for knowledge is there, even if it’s fueled by Bitcoin’s Number Go Up technology. DeLorme expertly points the man to the Mi Primer Bitcoin group that we met in his first On The Ground report.
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Author: Eduardo Próspero