McDonald’s Now Accepting Bitcoin in El Salvador

The largest American fast-food chain McDonald’s (MCD) is now accepting Bitcoin-as-payment through Lightning Network, a layer-two payment protocol that is designed to make Bitcoin (BTC) transactions more scalable, at all of its restaurants in El Salvador.

This announcement came as El Salvador started testing Bitcoin’s potential to work as a medium of exchange. The Central American country broke the paradigm to become the first in the world to recognize the de-facto crypto leader as legal tender.

“We are incredibly excited to work with McDonald’s to help make adoption of the country’s Bitcoin Law an operational success,” Julie Landrum, OpenNode’s head of growth, said in a statement.

Landrum added: “It’s just a massive opportunity to demonstrate the power of [our] Lightning Network for everyday high volume, low-value purchases at the most popular and successful fast-food chain in the world. Clearly another significant milestone on the path to growing the bitcoin economy.”

McDonald’s Bitcoin adoption is a big deal

Bitcoin’s price performance has helped it become an investable asset for both retail and institutional investors, but its ability to work as a medium of exchange has been limited up to now.

McDonald’s adoption of Bitcoin is a big deal and has become a test case to achieve mainstream adoption. McDonald’s has about 37,000 locations and the chain serves more than 70 million people and employs more than 1.7 million people around the world.

“Just walked into a McDonald’s in San Salvador to see if I could pay for my breakfast with bitcoin, fully expecting to be told no,” Bitcoin Magazine journalist Aaron van Wirdum wrote in a tweet. “But low and behold, they printed a ticket with QR that took me to a webpage with a Lightning invoice, and now I’m enjoying my desayuno traditional!”

If Bitcoin transactions work smoothly for customers and McDonald’s, the company could roll out this feature in other major regions including the United States and Europe.

Furthermore, Bitcoin’s success as payment at McDonald’s could pave the path for wider adoption in the e-commerce and fast-food industry. A recent survey hints the demand for Bitcoin is there.

The report from PYMNTS in May 2021 entitled, “How Consumers Want To Use It To Shop And Pay,” shows that about 12% of the 8,000 respondents said they currently own cryptocurrency. And out of these 12% owners, close to a quarter of them had already used crypto coins at restaurants or food delivery services, while 53% said they plan to use digital currencies for future purchases.

Bitcoin’s biggest test in the 12-year history

Since Bitcoin’s inception in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, economists and investors have been in a tug of war over its use as an alternative to fiat currency.

Nonetheless, El Salvador’s strategy of using Bitcoin as a legal tender is the biggest test case in its 12-year history. Critics are now closely watching how Bitcoin and the fiat currency can work alongside and how it can benefit both consumers and businesses. 

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, who is the mastermind behind the Bitcoin adoption, says the move can attract more people into the monetary system and that Bitcoin will make it cheaper to ship remittances. What’s more, the country has developed a huge infrastructure to support the wider adoption.

El Salvador’s ‘Bitcoin Law’ which came into effect on Tuesday, made it mandatory for businesses to accept Bitcoin as legal tender.

Furthermore, the government is rolling out hundreds of ATMs and it developed a new cryptocurrency wallet called Chivo, which will come with a preloaded $30 in BTC for citizens. California-based digital wallet firm BitGo is partly powering Chivo. 

“This is brave new world stuff,” stated Garrick Hileman, head of analysis for the London and Miami-based “We are in unchartered waters with this launch, but I’m glad to see this experiment happen overall, and I think we’ll learn a lot from it.”

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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