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SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – El Salvador’s long-awaited bitcoin conference, which was in the spotlight in 2021 after the tiny nation became the first in the world to adopt cryptocurrency as legal tender, lost ground. its luster this time amid a deep rout in the digital monetary universe.

The absence of big names in the bitcoin world and empty seats were noticeable during “Adopting Bitcoin: A Lightning Summit in El Salvador,” which kicked off Tuesday and ends Thursday in the capital city of San Salvador.

“The fact that prices are low, that there are problems elsewhere (…) causes an uncertain environment,” said Juan Fonseca, 41, a Guatemalan who visited the conference.

Like other cryptocurrencies, bitcoin fell sharply over the year as US Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and ultra-high inflation prompted investors to abandon riskier assets.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest and most well-known cryptocurrency, fell further after the dramatic collapse of crypto exchange FTX, which is now trading around $16,600 from an all-time high of nearly $69. 000 dollars in November of last year.

Some enthusiasts see today’s problems as just a temporary anomaly.

“Bitfinex will redouble its efforts to build a free, unstoppable, resilient and open bitcoin and technology infrastructure for El Salvador,” said Paolo Ardoino, the company’s Chief Technology Officer.

Ifinex, the parent company of Bitfinex, has agreed to work with the Salvadoran government to create a regulatory framework for digital assets and securities.

“El Salvador will become the financial and technological center of Central America. The noise will not distract builders,” Ardoino added after meeting Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele.

Bukele, who has championed the adoption of cryptocurrency as legal tender alongside the US dollar, said on Twitter late Wednesday, “We are buying one bitcoin every day starting tomorrow.”

So far, his government has acquired 2,381 bitcoins for around $107 million, according to private estimates.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria, Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Anthony Esposito and Richard Chang)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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