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McDonald's, El Salvador
McDonald's, El SalvadorVia Wikimedia Commons

McDonald’s accepts Bitcoin now, but only in El Salvador

‘Buying the dip’ just took on a whole new meaning

If you ever wished that you could use your Bitcoin to buy chicken nuggets (instead of, say, using it to buy modern art, or following Megan Thee Stallion’s investing advice) then you’re in luck. As of this week (September 7), McDonald’s has started accepting the cryptocurrency in its restaurants — you’ll just have to travel to El Salvador.

Why El Salvador? Well, on Tuesday the Central American country became the first worldwide to recognise Bitcoin as legal tender, alongside the US dollar. 

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

As detailed by Forbes, Bitcoin transactions have been enabled to buy food at all 19 McDonald’s locations throughout El Salvador — as well as to order delivery — via the California-based payment processor OpenNode, which has formed a partnership with the fast food chain.

OpenNode has also hinted at other locations and businesses where you’ll be able to trade in your cryptocurrency soon enough. “OpenNode has worked with all types of large businesses in El Salvador to enable Bitcoin payments in under two months,” says Julie Landrum, Head of Growth at the company, in a statement. “From digital wallets to mobile network operators, large retailers to insurance companies, fast food restaurants to industrial firms.”

“For countries like El Salvador, Bitcoin represents incredible economic opportunity,” she adds. “We really couldn’t be more thrilled to preview the future, and demonstrate the power of better payments for better money.”

El Salvador’s adoption of the new, digital currency hasn’t all been as smooth as ordering a burger online, though. The change became the subject of protests and speculation about money laundering after it was rushed through congress and implemented in just a few months by President Nayib Bukele. 

The government app for storing Bitcoin also crashed just hours after the much-anticipated launch, and stopped working for hours as server capacity was increased, seemingly causing a slump in the currency’s global price.

According to Bukele, El Salvador itself currently holds 550 BTC in its coffers (which currently translates to more than $25 million). “Buying the dip,” the president tweeted September 7, which could have meant that he was taking advantage of the global price drop, or that he was in McDonald’s picking up some ketchup for his fries.