El Salvador Bitcoin ATM network to receive Lightning Network upgrade

Athena Bitcoin, the company operating a state-owned chain of crypto ATMs in El Salvador, plans to integrate the Lightning Network into 100 of these machines in the next couple of months.

According to a press release from Nov. 7, Athena Bitcoin Global and Genesis Coin have already enabled the use of the Lightning Network technology across their technology infrastructure and will now begin implementing it, first in El Salvador and then across Latin America.

The Lightning Network is a layer-2 payment protocol that enables faster withdrawals and minimizes transaction fees. It also avoids recording the transaction data in the accounting of the main network. According to Coin ATM Radar, only 3.7% of the world’s crypto ATMs support the technology.

Athena intends to switch to Lightning support at 100 of the state-owned Chivo ATMs it’s operating in El Salvador by December 2023. The remaining kiosks, including the Athena-branded ones, will follow in Q1 2024. There are currently 215 crypto teller machines in El Salvador.

The country’s leader, Nayib Bukele, who made Bitcoin (BTC) legal tender in 2021, has recently announced his run for reelection as president in 2024. “Five more [years], five more and not one step back,” Bukele said in a speech in front of thousands of Salvadorans. In April 2023, Bukele made a bold move to eliminate all taxes on technology innovations, which could entice more entrepreneurs and foreign capital to move into the country.

Some experts, like Gabor Gurbacs, strategy adviser at investment management firm VanEck, believe El Salvador can follow Singapore’s lead and become a financial center in the Americas.

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