It’s time to talk Chivo and finish these From The Ground reports based on Stephen Delorme’s work. In part 1 he spoke to Salvadorans, in part 2 he visited stores. In this one, he’ll perform the final tests on the Chivo ecosystem. Delorme has been struggling with his wallets’ interoperability with everything Chivo from the beginning. One of his trip’s objectives was to test all of the different Bitcoin payment services Salvadorans use, and today we will complete the trilogy.
But first, let’s go to a volcano. “On Sunday, I hitched a ride with several other Bitcoiners to Ilamatepec, the Santa Ana Volcano,” Delorme tells us to start the journey.
A Chivo Dedicated Point Of Sale Terminal
On the way up to the mountains, the group stopped for gas, drinks, and bathroom breaks. Of course, they paid through the Lightning Network.
“The gas station used a version of Chivo I was not familiar with. Instead of the Chivo smartphone app or the Chivo merchant device, this gas station had a dedicated POS terminal. It was like many modern POS terminals, consisting of a small PC connected to a monitor. (Perhaps a tablet based terminal is more modern). The cashier accesses Chivo via a web based UI.”
Once again, they had to help the clerk to change the Chivo terminal to Lightning mode. “Why are on-chain payments the default for places like gas stations and dollar stores?” DeLorme asks. Surprisingly, in a twist no one expected, everything works!
“We executed several Lightning payments without issue! I do not recall there being any noticeable delay between the payments showing as received on our Lightning wallets and the payments showing as received in the Chivo POS website.
So far, this browser based Chivo POS terminal has been my most positive experience with Chivo yet.”
If you want the story and pictures of the volcano, go to DeLorme’s blog. We’re here to talk Chivo.
A Street Food Vendor Receives a Big Tip
On the next day, back in San Salvador, DeLorme finds a street chef who makes him a sandwich “similar to a hot dog, but with shredded meat instead of a sausage.” Then, the Chivo Wallet’s classical problems appear once again.
“He created a Chivo Lightning invoice, and I paid him with BlueWallet. While the payment showed complete on my end, the payment was nowhere to be seen on his end!
We tried switching over to a local WiFi network and performing the payment again. Same issue: the Lightning payment was a success with my wallet, but was nowhere to be found in Chivo.”
DeLorme pays in cash. Later on, he “happened to pass by him again on another street. He told me that he had received both of the Lightning payments later in the day.” What happened there? Once again, the problems have to do with the Chivo ecosystem. DeLorme explains:
“An important thing to remember about Lightning payments is that they are atomic, meaning they either succeed or they fail; there is no middle state. If my wallet shows the payment as successful, then Chivo’s node must have received my payment. This seems like an issue with Chivo’s internal infrastructure and not an issue with Bitcoin or Lightning. When their Lightning node receives a payment, they need to be pushing a notification to the user’s phone immediately.”
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DeLorme Finally Faces The Infamous Chivo ATMs
Day six and DeLorme finally finds a Chivo ATM.
“I decided to try and purchase Bitcoin with cash as well as sell Bitcoin for cash in order to test out the user experience of each. Overall, the Chivo ATM user interfaces are pretty easy to navigate.”
As you might expect, everything tends towards disaster and the process is far from intuitive.
“After “checking the network” for my TX, the ATM finally spit out a receipt for me with a withdrawal code. Presumably, I need to return to the machine later once my TX has been included in a block and then enter the withdrawal code to claim my cash.
I wonder how a user knows when to return to the machine with their withdrawal code? The machine provided very minimal instructions”
Rightfully, DeLorme is afraid that this could “create the impression that machine has “eaten” their bitcoin.” Another story is that he finds an abandoned receipt in the machine, and realizes that “the bitcoin purchase receipt displays the exact bitcoin address the money is sent to.” This is problematic from the security perspective. Easily fixable, though. If only we could get DeLorme’s report to President Bukele’s team…
Then, the real problems start:
“I never received the bitcoin I bought. I checked mempool.space for my on-chain address and nothing ever showed up. While I was fiddling around with the mempool, a young woman wearing a Chivo shirt approached me to ask if I needed help.
I tried to ask her how long it would take to receive my bitcoin. She said that because I was not using Chivo, it might take a long time.”
In the end, through Telegram, the Chivo support team tells him that the transaction fell through because they need to see his passport. The system already took his money, though. The Chivo support team asks him to send it through Telegram. What a disaster. “I declined. While I recognize they may be required to KYC people, I wasn’t comfortable sending my passport info over Telegram.” Of course, he didn’t. Who would be comfortable doing that?
Related Reading | From The Ground: Devastating Problems With The Chivo Wallet
That’s it from our From The Ground reports based on Stephen DeLorme’s blog posts. He has a last one about the Adopting Bitcoin conference. It’s great and you all should read it. However, since it’s not about El Salvador per se, it falls outside the purview of our From The Ground section.
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