From The Ground: Stephen DeLorme, A Hard-Core Bitcoiner, Talks To Salvadorans

This From The Ground report is gold. Stephen DeLorme visited El Salvador and got the information we needed. He talked to real people, experimented with different wallets, went to all kinds of commerces. His story is full of the confusion and angst that being the pioneer carries. El Salvador is going where no country has gone before. Its citizens are in for the ride, but, in most cases involuntarily and without enough information. How would they know Bitcoin is the best asset ever created? 

Related Reading | From The Ground: The “Bitcoin In El Salvador” Documentary, What Did We Learn?

But first, who’s Stephen DeLorme? He’s “a designer and front-end developer working on Bitcoin.” He’s part of the Bitcoin Design Community that produced the phenomenal Bitcoin Design Guide we covered a while ago. “I focus my efforts on crafting UX best practices for Lightning network applications. I received a grant from Square Crypto so that I would be able to work on this full-time,” he tells us through his blog.

DeLorme’s Adventures In El Salvador

The story begins at El Salvador’s airport. He eats at a restaurant there, and we immediately notice that Bitcoin adoption is not as advanced as we thought. “I asked if I could pay with Bitcoin, and they said no, so I opted for credit card.” In the government’s facilities, they accept Bitcoin. However, other challenges await.  

“My first attempt to pay with Zeus failed — I don’t entirely recall the error message I received, as I was more focused on navigating my with through Customs.

I whipped out Strike so that I would not hold up any lines. That worked instantly. She printed out a Chivo receipt for me.”

In the hotel, they have to call another employee for him to pay in Bitcoin. However, the woman who comes seems to know her stuff. “She whipped out a phone with Wallet of Satoshi and took my payment that way. We chatted for a few minutes about Bitcoin adoption in her country. She described herself as “very pro-Bitcoin”. She said she was nervous when she first heard about it, but once somebody “took 3 minutes” to show her how to use a wallet, she was onboard with the idea.” Then, something magical happens:

“I asked her how other people in the country felt. She said that she feels the people who are opposed to Bitcoin do not understand it. She also pointed out that there are many people who do not have access to smartphones in the country; I said something like “that must be scary for them, if they feel like the rest of the country is adopting this new thing without them and leaving them behind” and she agreed.”

Have you ever thought about that? It MUST be scary for them. Consider that the next time you hear about an Anti-Bitcoin protest.

BTC price chart for 12/03/2021 on Bitstamp | Source: BTC/USD on

Highlights About DeLorme’s First Days

  • He went to a Mi Primer Bitcoin Meetup and described the group as, “they are trying to teach people how to use Bitcoin wallets in their daily lives.” He also inform us that they’re “recommending Muun to many people for its easy UX.”
  • DeLorme ruminates, “Some people have a difficult time separating their opinions about Bitcoin from their opinions about Nayib Bukele.
  • Some wallets exhibited camera problems. “Their wallets could not seem to focus on the QR code for the LN invoice from the waiter (who used IBEX Mercado). Interestingly enough, their phones could focus on QR codes using other camera apps.”
  • The commerces that accepted Bitcoin, usually did it through a separate point of sale than all other payments. “A designated person who has a smartphone and is trained to take the BTC payment, or perhaps a dedicated POS terminal separate from the other POS terminals.”
  • Word to the wise. “If you would like to pay with bitcoin in El Salvador, announce your intention at the beginning of the transaction, before the cashier has started punching in your purchase at the POS.”

The Source Of Salvadorans Fears About Bitcoin

This is an insight that clarifies a lot. It explains some of the apprehension Salvadorans have when it comes to Bitcoin. Apparently, when El Salvador adopted the Dollar: 

“People were told that colons and dollars would both be maintained as legal tender moving forward. That ended up not being the case; the colon was eventually phased out. For many people who lived in SV during that time period, this brings back bad memories.”

Related Reading | From The Ground: Salvadoran Tells Us Exactly What’s Going On In Bitcoin Country

Are Salvadorans afraid this might happen again? They probably are. However, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And that light is Bitcoin. “Something that they think Chivo does well, which is show USD and BTC balances side by side. This helps people to easily understand that they can hold both dollars and bitcoin.” However, the problems that we showcased in a previous From The Ground report persist.

”Some have had issues when sending from a non-custodial LN wallet to Chivo. One man described sending from BlueWallet to Chivo. His funds are no longer in his wallet, but the Chivo wallet never received the funds.”

As you can see, Stephen DeLorme is giving us nothing but gold. Come back tomorrow for another dose, this man’s story is nowhere near over.

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