Curtis Loftis, the treasurer for the U.S. state of South Carolina, spent five days in El Salvador as part of an “exploratory trip” focusing on cryptocurrencies.
According to an Oct. 5 announcement, Loftis was part of a delegation including South Carolina business leaders, rural health officials and individuals “interested in the expansion of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies” who met with officials from El Salvador’s government in an effort to understand the country’s efforts to adopt Bitcoin (BTC). The cryptocurrency has been legal tender alongside the U.S. dollar in the Central American nation since El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law went into effect in September 2021.
Loftis reportedly used his own funds to pay for the trip, which included discussing Bitcoin with government officials and exploring the country’s financial literacy educational programs. According to the treasurer, the visit to El Salvador was prompted by South Carolina’s legislature exploring ways to support the adoption of crypto and blockchain in the state.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Loftis, a self-described Luddite, said he was neither a “proponent nor opponent” of crypto but wanted to learn how South Carolina’s government could use the technology effectively in addition to promoting financial literacy among residents. The treasurer said the group tried to use Bitcoin “maybe four times” during the El Salvador trip, as payments to street vendors and local businesses.
“We were in a nicer restaurant, and the tab was about $300 to $400 — a bunch of us — and they paid with Bitcoin,” said Loftis. “I signed up for Lightning beforehand. [...] It was interesting [...] people living really close to the ground using Bitcoin and some of them really enjoy it — they were really pleased to have done it.”
The South Carolina treasurer added:
”That’s our mandate: not to make a world with Bitcoin or Ethereum, or not make that world — it’s just to understand what’s going on, set up a system where we [...] make sure people have good resources to understand what’s happening."
S.C. Columbia Treasurer and Bitcoin supporter, Curtis M. Loftis, visited El Salvador and witnessed the positive and transformational impact of BTC – El Salvador in English https://t.co/NddUO4HyIp— Bitcoin Beach (@Bitcoinbeach) October 4, 2022
Reports have suggested that roughly 20% of Salvadorans use BTC through Chivo Wallets, while El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, announced that the government held 2,381 BTC as of July. With the crypto market down, the value of the country’s total Bitcoin investment has dropped more than 55% since September 2021 — worth roughly $48 million at the time of publication.