A woman withdraws money from a bitcoin ATM in El Salvador.
Camilo Freedman/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
- Cathie Wood noted El Salvador’s bitcoin adoption has doubled how many citizens can access financial services.
- The Ark CEO believes allocating capital to innovation will benefit people’s lives around the world in the long run.
- Through mobile phone technology, billions of people worldwide have been able to access financial services, Wood noted.
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El Salvador’s grand bitcoin ambitions may have hit a snag in the crypto slump, but one markets star has a good word for them: Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood.
Asked whether the finance industry increases wealth inequality, Wood told Time magazine that allocating capital to innovation will benefit people’s lives around the world in the long run.
The widely followed investor pointed to El Salvador, where she believes President Nayib Bukele’s bitcoin push has given citizens financial opportunities that they didn’t have before.
“The president in El Salvador is giving $30 of bitcoin to every eligible adult,” she said in the Time interview published Sunday.
“And what we’ve seen there is that, roughly, whereas only 1.2 million people have access to financial services, 3 million people now have access to new banking services and new financial services, thanks to blockchain technology.”
Bitcoin became legal tender in El Salvador in September, making it the first country in the world to do so. The Central American country has developed its own digital wallet, called “Chivo,” which lets people withdraw money from more than 200 ATMs.
Through mobile phone technology, billions of people worldwide have been able to access financial services, Wood noted. This, coupled with blockchain technology, will go a long way to bridging the gap between rich and poor, she believes.
“So in my book, the more we can allocate capital to innovation, the better we can make people’s lives around the world,” she said.
El Salvador’s millennial president is known for trading bitcoin on his phone. As the leading cryptocurrency has fallen, he has touted buying the dip and the Central American country has increased its holdings to about 1,391 bitcoins, according to a Bloomberg analysis.
Recent drops in bitcoin have cost El Salvador around $10 million, Bloomberg estimates. Bitcoin was at $42,262, down about 2.5% on the past 24 hours on Monday, according to CoinMarketCap data. Trading volume was relatively unchanged over the past week.
Despite the slump, other countries and even several US cities have revealed bitcoin plans, and Rio De Janeiro’s Mayor said last week he would invest 1% of the city’s reserves in the cryptocurrency.
Elsewhere in the interview, Wood told Time that Ark shares its strategy for investing in innovation freely, so that individual investors know what’s coming.
The Ark CEO and founder became a household name after the firm’s flagship Ark Innovation ETF (ARKK) had a bumper year in 2020, when it rose 150%. While the fund has faltered recently — it fell 38% in 2021 — Wood’s opinion is highly regarded by many retail investors.