I forgot to record some impressions of El Salvador (got back a few days ago).

Payments: the situation is probably well known to most. (1) In Bitcoin Beach, the 'bitcoin beach wallet' is near-universally used; it's by Galoy, it's custodial, and they tend to use QR codes for web page that serves an invoice, rather than LN QR codes directly, which honestly is an unfortunate decision. But the wallet does take Lightning payments quite reliably, because it's custodial.


(2) In the capital San Salvador, the situation is hugely different. There, the Chivo wallet/app is used by a fair number of smaller retail outlets, while other smaller local businesses often have no Bitcoin support at all.
The Chivo wallet is essentially a disaster for actual Bitcoin adoption in my opinion, because it works well enough to confuse people, but doesn't actually do what it absolutely must: support LN properly. Even worse, .. (2/n)


... it can be made to accept a Lightning payment, but doesn't show the payment as successful, when it's complete. This happened to me once in a food court, and to others many times. I ended up double paying because the wait staff couldn't understand that my wallet successfully made the payment immediately, but they saw nothing in Chivo.
People in ES are using Chivo mainly with its USD payment feature, which is the default. It is difficult to overstate what an absolute shitshow this app is.

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Somewhat less discussed is the Chivo ATMs. Surprisingly, I found this really good, at least for btc->usd cash function, having tried it and seen others use it too. It's a little clunky because: (a) onchain only and (b) there's a two step, deposit, receive code, then redeem, sometimes (it may just depend on rbf). Other times it gives out cash straight away.
The rates are almost crazily fair, I think there is almost zero fee/spread.

I didn't try buying btc from it, nor saw anyone else do. (4/n)

I should complete this record of experience paying for things: there are other situations, even in San Salvador, that are actually good: in particular, chain restaurants like McDonalds and Starbucks, where paying works absolutely fine. These are using non-Chivo setups (opennode? Ibex? I don't recall exactly). In total I probably made 25-30 payments in the two weeks I was there; several were playing around or paying friends, but several were to those. One was completely ad hoc, paying for (5/n)

.. ground coffee from a guy I met via a friend, on the street. This worked flawlessly, I think he used bluewallet/muun or something like that.

I myself tended to use bluewallet, phoenix. A couple of times I used Zeus connected to my home node but it tended to be a bit slow and glitchy, perhaps partly because of the Tor connection.

Overall things were great, except Chivo being so bad. (6/n).


Thanks for the honest assessment. It's cool that the ATMs work fairly well but it sounds like the Chivo wallet is so bad that it threatens the entire #Bitcoin / #Lightning adoption initiative.

The hope is that more dollarized counties attempt to incorporate Bitcoin and leverage the knowledge gained from El Salvador.

@waxwing Zeus was working so well for me, but the setup was slightly different.
Used both c-lightning and LND nodes connected via zerotier.com/ VPN rather than Tor.
A direct channel makes wonders even with Chivo :).

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