El Salvador to Elevate Bitcoin Status by Issuing Bonds

El Salvador is planning to issue its first bitcoin bond next month, the Central American country’s Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya announced.

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Zelaya elaborated that El Salvador is working to have the bond “totally ready” for issuance between March 15 and March 20 as a means to strengthen the country’s economy.

“If we really want to build this country, we have to invest in it like this,” Zelaya said speaking at a local news program.

Furthermore, Zelaya said that the government is still planning to issue $1 billion for the first bond, as previously mentioned on November 20. However, Zelaya also mentioned that there are chances of oversubscription for the bond by about $500 million minimum.

Buyers are expected to have easier access to the bond than traditional ones. It will allow a minimum purchase of $100 and does not require a stockbroker to conduct the transactions. 

The bond will be issued on Blockstream’s Liquid Network sidechain and they “will comply with all the regulations of the financial markets,” such as know-your-customer (KYC) and due diligence practices.

The bitcoin bond idea was first introduced at an event on November 20, by El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele and Blockstream chief strategy officer Samson Mow.

Fitch downgrades El Salvador into “Junk” level

However, Fitch Ratings – a top American credit rating agency – has downgraded El Salvador’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) to ‘CCC’ from ‘B-‘, citing risks from its adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender last year, according to Bloomberg. 

In a report, Fitch Ratings stated that the downgrade shows the country’s critical increase in financing risks that have risen from increased reliance on short-term debt.

“weakening of institutions and concentration of power in the presidency has increased policy unpredictability, and the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender has added uncertainty about the potential for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program that would unlock financing for 2022-2023.”

Although crypto enthusiasts have been keen on bitcoin bonds, several financial experts have argued on the fact that whether they are a good investment.

The IMF recently noted that some of its directors “expressed concern over the risks associated with issuing Bitcoin-backed bonds.”

According to January 26, 2022, a report by Blokchain.News, the IMF expressed concern about risks related to El Salvador’s issuance of bitcoin-backed bonds. It urged El Salvador to terminate bitcoin as legal tender as soon as possible due to the high price volatility of the digital currency being a major risk.

El Salvador became the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender since June 2021, with 62 votes approval out of 84 through its parliament. In September, Bitcoin officially was circulated in this country as legal tender.

Image source: Shutterstock


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El Salvador’s dollar debt dives on Bitcoin bond plans

El Salvador’s dollar-denominated bonds have fallen to an all-time low as the Central American nation’s debt started trading in “distressed territory” this week. 

El Salvador’s USD bonds fell to 64.4 cents to the dollar on Monday, Nov. 22, following the weekend news that the Central American country would use Bitcoin (BTC) bonds to fund its Bitcoin City initiative. Dollar bonds have fallen steadily since April 2021 when they topped $1.10 according to Bloomberg data.

A dollar-denominated bond is a bond issued outside of the United States by a foreign company or government, that is denominated in USD instead of their local currency.

Monday’s drop resulted in the country’s debt becoming among the worst performers in global trading, Bloomberg reported. Investors are concerned that President Nayib Bukele has shut out the IMF from assisting the nation with development funds.

Managing Director of investment banking company Stifel Nicolaus, Nathalie Marshik, commented that “this announcement cements the ‘anything-but-the-IMF’ path,” before adding that bonds are falling “as the market reassesses possible recovery value lower on the unpredictability of policies.”

The Bitcoin bond will pay 6.5% annual interest in addition to 50% of El Salvador’s Bitcoin gains once its initial investment costs for its mining infrastructure have been recovered. Dividends will be paid in USD or Tether (USDT), according to Samson Mow, Blockstream’s Chief Strategy Officer.

Mow believes that the Bitcoin bond will be an alternative way for institutional investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without having to hold Bitcoin themselves. It will also be a way for investors to help El Salvador develop more rapidly. Mow, who has been working with the El Salvador government on developing the Bitcoin bond, told Bloomberg TV on Nov. 23,

“We’re trying to structure this in a way that people can present [the Bitcoin bond] to boards and directors as a normal bond because it is a normal bond. It just happens to have a large chunk of Bitcoin tied in.”

In response to Mow’s interview with Bloomberg, Podcaster and popular Bitcoin advocate Anthony Pompliano predicted that they will be “ridiculously oversubscribed.”

El Salvador has been in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for much of 2021 over a possible $1.3 billion loan. Those talks could be fading into obscurity as President Bukele has decided to fund more local initiatives, such as school building, with Bitcoin over USD. 

Related: El Salvador to build 20 ‘Bitcoin Schools’ with surplus from Bitcoin Trust

The IMF issued a concluding statement regarding El Salvador’s funding request on Nov. 22. Although El Salvador’s economy has rebounded quickly from the pandemic, fiscal deficits and high public debt services are creating bigger holes in the services the country can provide, it stated. 

The report added that efforts to improve financial inclusion and raise growth are welcome, “but risks arising from Bitcoin as a legal tender, the new payments ecosystem, and trading in Bitcoin should be addressed.”

“Because of those risks, Bitcoin should not be used as a legal tender. Staff recommends narrowing the scope of the Bitcoin law and urges strengthening the regulation and supervision of the new payment ecosystem.”