El Salvador says Ukraine is factor in bitcoin-backed bond timing

FILE PHOTO: A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin
FILE PHOTO: A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin is seen in this picture illustration taken October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su//

March 11, 2022

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) -El Salvador is looking for the right timing to launch a bitcoin-backed bond, which could happen between March 15 and 20 but may depend on the war in Ukraine, the Central American nation’s finance minister Alejandro Zelaya said on Friday.

President Nayib Bukele aims to issue his country’s first-ever $1 billion bitcoin-backed bond this month and use the proceeds to buy more cryptocurrencies and build “Bitcoin City” – a planned metropolis that would use geothermal energy from a nearby volcano to “mine” the digital coins.

“We believe that between March 15 and 20 is the right timing, we have the tools almost finished. But the international context will tell us … I didn’t expect the war in Ukraine,” Zelaya told a local TV channel.

The bond has faced headwinds as intensifying volatility rocks the cryptocurrency, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine adding to the uncertainty.

“We’re still finishing some details, almost everything is ready, the thing is there is also a timing issue,” Zelaya said.

Bitcoin, hit a record high above $67,500 in early November, but lost almost half its value by Jan. 22.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)