The chief executive of a Bitcoin digital wallet company Strike has shed some light on how El Salvador came to adopt BTC as legal currency in a move that took the world by surprise two weeks ago.

Strike CEO Jack Mallers has told British podcaster Peter McCormack that some weeks ago he visited El Salvador, staying for a month at a coastal village known as “Bitcoin Beach”, when President Nayib Bukele’s brother unexpectedly reached out to him to arrange a meeting.

“They saw Bitcoin and what Strike was doing as a major factor in what they viewed as the future of the world… and they saw the country as uniquely positioned to take the first step.”

El Salvador lacks its own currency, using the US dollar, and about 70 per cent of its population doesn’t have a bank account, making the country well-positioned to take advantage of Bitcoin’s open network.

Mallers said the meeting went well but he was stunned when a few days later El Salvadoran authorities called him and said, “after talking to you and getting to know the space a little more and hearing your ideas, we need to make Bitcoin legal tender and we need to build the country’s financial infrastructure and be a representation for the entire world.”

It was “like this mic-drop kind of phone call,” Mallers told McCormack.

He described the lead-up to El Salvador’s announcement at a Miami Bitcoin conference that it was adopting BTC as unbelievably stressful.

Mallers also said that there was no commercial arrangement between Strike and the El Salvadoran government and that El Salvadorans will be able to use whatever Bitcoin wallet they want, not just Strike’s.