7 min read

Crypto Exchanges& Regulation in El Salvador

Top exchanges in El Salvador by Coincub criteria
Article review author
Jonathan Lea
El Salvador head image

Crypto Country Rating: 7.81/10

Institutional acceptance
Government driven acceptance
Exchanges & Wallets availability
Leading exchanges available
Government regulation
Uniquely the only country to use bitcoin as legal tender
Defi acceptance
No real position taken on DeFi
Financial services
Institutions following government lead
Personal data collection and identity required – service providers to be licensed and transparent
Spending crypto
Many retail outlets offer bitcoin ATMs
Banks activity in crypto
Banks to facilitate crypto services as per government strategy

Bitcoin and Crypto Trading in El Salvador

In many ways, having declared Bitcoin as legal tender ought to position El Salvador as the top crypto-friendly country in the world, at least in terms of acceptance and government outlook. But as we have seen with other countries, all-round strength of the crypto economy with positive regulation and sensible policies count higher in our ranking scores. As you would expect there is a much higher than average proportion of the population holding crypto and also a higher than average number of ATMs. However, plenty of evidence suggests that the population is unwilling to let go of traditional currencies and take crypto fully to heart.

Having announced Bitcoin as legal tender, the most important aspect of all is what the coin is trading at – and the recent falls in price, naturally make its own population keen to avoid using it for the everyday mainstream currency. For the record, when El Salvador made its blockbuster announcement that Bitcoin would become Legal tender, the government also provided a digital wallet app, complete with some £20 worth of Bitcoin to each citizen and created a number of Bitcoin ATMs across the country. The launch caused worldwide consternation, but in El Salvador it was seen as an economic boost with businesses, obliged to accept Bitcoin as payment. Even more ambitious was the country’s announcement

Bitcoin is a controversial currency choice mostly because it is a new concept and as such its value can fluctuate wildly. It has risen and fallen dramatically several times since it inception with the last few months seeing its value drop to under $40k from its highs of nearly $70k as little time ago as November 2021. Undeterred, El Salvador’s President has plans for a ‘Bitcoin City’ – a bit like Las Vegas but without Ocean’s Eleven – as a means to further spice his country’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender. Bitcoin City, would, of course, be financed by Bitcoin, but at current prices it may need to start out as Bitcoin Village.

Recent warnings by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urging El Salvador to reverse its decision to make Bitcoin legal tender are also adding to the uncertainty of what many call a bold experiment.
When it comes to Bitcoin in El Salvador or anywhere, it’s all about price, and large price drops have pointed to instability and inflation in the country.

Using crypto in El Salvador

El Salvador is the first country to instate bitcoin as legal tender. This is a bold experiment and the government’s way of endorsing crypto.

El Salvador is stepping up usage of crypto with the implementation of some 200 bitcoin ATMs. In essence, the majority of crypto usage is in transacting and sending money, which can be expensive and time consuming via traditional banks. Using crypto to send and receive money, especially smaller amounts, is a pattern of daily life, particularly for middle and lower-income residents.

Gifting Crypto

There appears to be no restrictions or taxes on gifting crypto.

Law and crypto trading in El Salvador

By making bitcoin legal tender, El Salvador has legitimized it and other cryptocurrencies in a big way. Nearly all countries recognize cryptocurrency as a form of exchange token, property, or asset class, with countless subclassifications for various coins and tokens. The government of El Salvador has hailed crypto as the future of money, though the emergence of a central bank digital currencies (CBDC) may complicate matters. El Salvador is also one of a number of countries that use the US Dollar as its official currency, so the move to bitcoin is a step into uncharted waters.

Legal Latest

El Salvador is moving fast on crypto. The economy relies greatly on payments being made to its people from citizens working abroad. For this reason the country has turned to the lightning network to facilitate crypto transactions with minimal fees. The government has also sponsored an official bitcoin wallet application, allowing users to convert between US Dollars and bitcoin when sending and receiving payments. The  Central Bank of El Salvador has published technical standards for the regulation of bitcoin, which state that financial institutions and banks should offer bitcoin services to their customers. Financial institutions must apply to the Central Bank of El Salvador if they wish to offer digital wallets and related services.

Taxing cryptocurrencies in El Salvador


Income tax applies to trading gains. Given its status as legal tender, the gains accrued on bitcoin will not attract capital gains tax.

Tax Relief

Possibly no capital gains tax on bitcoin.

Tax when moving residency

If you are a long-term resident of El Salvador you are deemed a permanent resident for tax purposes. Should you move and become resident, your tax affairs will come under the jurisdiction of your country of residence.

Tax for Mining

One of the most publicized and prohibitive costs of mining is the electricity the activity consumes. El Salvador, in its keenness for all things crypto, has plans to promote mining through the use of inexhaustible power sourced from volcanic energy. It sounds like a sci-fi plot but LaGeosSV, the state-owned geothermal electric company, is planning to offer facilities for bitcoin mining using 100% renewable and clean energy from volcanoes.

Crypto financial services in El Salvador

Fin services/retirement account

Most retirement and pension funds worldwide deem cryptocurrencies to be too volatile to become part of long-term retirement schemes. There is little certainty on this at present, but  those able to pay the higher fees associated with higher-risk investments will probably be able to include crypto within their retirement plans. Now that bitcoin is deemed legal tender in El Salvador, there seems to be no reason why it should not be included in any financial plan.

Fin services/Banking interest

Following hot on the heels of the designation of bitcoin as legal tender, El Salvador is actively encouraging its banks to facilitate crypto services. This is in addition to the country’s creation of state-backed wallet, Chivo.

Fin Services/DeFi

Decentralized Finance and blockchain technology are linked to the growth of crypto around the world. The status of bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador is one thing, but it remains to be seen whether more aspects of DeFi will be integrated into the country’s financial system.

Crypto regulation in El Salvador


As with any crypto dealings you are considering, it’s always a good idea to check the levels of security, protection, and insurance any exchange can offer you. With bitcoin’s new status as legal tender, a government-approved wallet, and government sponsorship of the banking sector to facilitate crypto transactions and trading, it would seem that the population would be secure and protected against fraud at least when using home-based services. Regarding overseas exchanges, security is a matter of individuals checking that their chosen exchange has a good record against loss and fraud.


Now that Salvadoran banks are being urged to participate in crypto services, transparency will likely follow. Under the new pro-bitcoin guidelines, El Salvadorian financial institutions are required to ensure customers go through the standard Know-Your-Customer (KYC) verification processes. They also need to implement anti-money laundering (AML) procedures when dealing with bitcoin.


New to crypto? Here’s our guide!

FAQ Image #1 01 Why Bitcoin? It seems like the buzz around Bitcoin just keeps growing. Bitcoin is a constantly evolving technology with a passionate community. What is it about the digital asset that makes it such a controversial topic and attractive investment?
FAQ Image #2 02 How to Get Started with Bitcoin It can be difficult to get past the technical jargon surrounding bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies in order to figure out how you can buy and store them. Beginners can purchase Bitcoin, for example, on many exchanges using fiat currency like U.S. Dollar, Euro or British Pound.
FAQ Image #3 03 Blockchains 101 Blockchains are a type of database where data is stored in blocks that are chained together. As new data comes in, it is entered into a block, which is then chained to the previous block. The Bitcoin blockchain serves as a ledger that records every Bitcoin transaction in history.
FAQ Image #4 04 Bitcoin in the Real World Ok - you’ve found an exchange, bought your Bitcoin, and stored it safely. What’s next? By now you can buy just about anything with Bitcoin if you try hard enough, from Amazon gift cards to an old master painting. You can also convert your BTC to fiat with ATMs, an exchange, and more.

What people say about us

Aayush Bhatnagar JIO - Senior Vice President

Coincub is a novel crypto exchange aggregator that helps investors to compare different exchanges before taking their decision.

James Gillingham Co-Founder and CEO at FINXFLO

The most comprehensive analysis I found. Have a look, you might be surprised.

Jonathan Knegtel CEO Blockdata

Coincub looks dope! Nice one!