The popular Mi Primer Bitcoin program, which means “My First Bitcoin”, has gained momentum in El Salvador. The first batch of Bitcoiner students started classes in May. Founded by John Dennehy, an American activist and journalist, the program also has the support of the Salvadoran government.
The first diploma program #Bitcoin was launched in El Salvador with the support of the Ministry of Education pic.twitter.com/ajIHPHzqap
– Bitcoin Magazine (@BitcoinMagazine) May 2, 2022
Cointelegraph spoke with Dennehy and Gilberto Moto, Director of Education in El Salvador, to delve into the country’s struggles and successes in Bitcoin (BTC) education and to understand the rate at which it is spreading among the land of volcanoes.
When El Salvador adopted bitcoin as legal tender on June 8, 2021, very few Salvadorans besides President Neb Pockel could explain concepts such as seed phrases, satoshis, or mining. There was “Bitcoin Beach,” the name given to the sleepy surf town of Zonte, the birthplace of bitcoin adoption in El Salvador.
But the work of the local population of 3,000 will stop to educate the remaining 6 million. In fact, Salvadorans will need hundreds of hours of training, learning and “orange sweats” to be able to save and transact in bitcoin.
At the moment Bukele entered as many as 6 million people into the Bitcoin protocol. Source: Twitter
It was a huge task looming for the Salvadoran government. Motto told Cointelegraph that according to Section 6 of the Bitcoin Act, “the state will provide training in the use of this cryptocurrency.” However, what would this training look like? How can the country introduce Bitcoin denominations quickly and effectively while also having to deal with new money?
All the while, Bitcoin, commentators, and the mainstream media have watched El Salvador’s experience. Denny, who has spent the past living and working in Latin America, told Cointelegraph that when the law was announced, he should have made it to the country as soon as possible:
“I knew I wanted to do something to help make sure it worked, and it was a success here.”
Dennehy has been “inclined to separate money from the state” for some time, and upon first learning about the innovation of Satoshi Nakamoto, while living in Ecuador in 2013, became a strong Bitcoiner client. He joked that according to most Bitcoiners “OG” experiences, the first exchange he bought BTC was hacked, and he lost about 2 BTC at the time – now worth over $40,000 at the time of writing.
Nearly 10 years later and after the arrival of the first country to adopt bitcoin, he had to find a way to share. Travel to El Salvador at the second opportunity this opportunity will give him. However, similar to other bitcoiners who have made a pilgrimage to El Salvador, he has been amazed at the number of merchants and sellers who accept bitcoin. “There were virtually no [traders] when the law went into effect,” Dennehy told Cointelegraph in May.
Rikki, a Bitcoin podcaster and human rights activist who spent 45 days in El Salvador and lives on Bitcoin and nothing else, told Cointelegraph similar stories about his travels in Bitcoin Land: “Nobody here knows anything about Bitcoin. The [government] has not provided a single second of education. to the people of El Salvador.
Motto explained to Cointelegraph that Bitcoin has since been integrated into financial education as well as financial literacy programs across the country. Motto told Cointelegraph that “the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is working alongside various Bitcoin-related institutions in the country”:
“Including Bitcoin Beach Wallet, Mi Primer Bitcoin, and others, in developing a financial education training module that includes up-to-date content such as cryptocurrencies and e-wallets.”
However, relying on a government or a third party to get things done would be against the spirit of Bitcoin, i.e. “Don’t trust, verify.” A popular Bitcoin education campaign that would spread like a network, and that would complement and expand the government’s Bitcoin education scheme, would be a perfect fit.
Mi Primer Bitcoin, founded by Dennehy in 2021, is an NGO that provides free Bitcoin education to Salvadorans. It has since received funding from LookingGlass as well as IBEX Mercado, a provider of Bitcoin and Lightning Network services.
Now this is an initiative well worth the time and effort. I got some open points for Bitcoin customers who want to help and make a difference, at a grassroots level.
Email me if you are interested… https://t.co/y1cvrESJt1
– Svitsky. UnCommunist.com (SvetskiWrites) July 7, 2022
The project came to Dennehy during his first conversations with Salvadorans when he got to know his new home. He was casually asking, “Do you take Bitcoin?” And I realized that a lot of people not only accepted Bitcoin, but also asked Dennehy to explain the decentralized currency to them.