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El Salvador’s finance minister defended the country’s strategy to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender even as critics urge the nation to ditch the experiment as the cryptocurrency world suffers through a bear market.

Almost a year into the country’s bet on Bitcoin, Alejandro Zelaya said the digital currency has brought financial services to a largely unbanked population and attracted tourism and investments. While its use as a means of exchange is low, he said he remains a believer in digital money and added the government is still planning to issue a Bitcoin-backed bond using blockchain technology.