Venezuela launches its oil-backed crypto-currency, the petro

22 February 2018, 12:56 | Andres Norman

Venezuela's national cryptocurrency is officially up for sale

Struggling Venezuela to start selling 'petro' cryptocurrency

Venezuela's main opposition parties say they will shun this year's presidential elections, claiming the vote has been rigged to guarantee a victory for President Nicolas Maduro.

The Latin American country has the world's largest proven oil reserves but is facing a crippling economic and political crisis.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro hopes that Petro will become an alternative national currency to the bolivar, which is now only worth 0.00004 Dollars - after years of hyperinflation.

Venezuela launches the pre-sale of a new commodity-backed digital currency.

Sanctions levied a year ago by Washington block USA banks and investors from acquiring newly issued Venezuelan debt, effectively preventing the nation from borrowing overseas to bring in new hard currency or refinance existing debt.

Where can you buy it?

For months the opposition has tried to negotiate more favorable terms with the government through a series of meetings in the Dominican Republic, as part of an worldwide effort to remedy the country's political stalemate.

"Our responsibility is to put (the Petro) in the best hands and then a secondary market will appear", said Carlos Vargas, who's charge of the project.

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President Maduro has said the total offering will be now worth $6 billion, making it by far the world's biggest digital currency launch of its kind, although initial sales are expected to be at a heavy discount in order to attract interest.

He added: "In a short future Venezuelans can buy in the bakery with the Petro".

At current prices ($62 per barrel) 100m petros could help raise around $6bn.

"My advice would be to tread very carefully with this especially considering the track record of the Venezuelan government", said Federico Bond, co-founder of Signatura, a digital startup based in Argentina. However, using a cryptocurrency for foreign transactions will not solve Venezuela's extreme economic problems.

Venezuelan opposition presidential pre-candidate Henri Falcon attends a meeting with representatives of worldwide media in Caracas, Venezuela February 20, 2018. Sanctions that will not harm the people of Venezuela, but the pockets of those that are appropriating whatever money is left”, Almagro said.

The opposition-controlled National Assembly has opposed the idea of the petro, labelling it illegal.

"The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela guarantees that it will receive PETRO as a form of payment for national taxes, fees, contributions and public services, taking as a reference the previous day's Venezuelan oil basket price with a discount", says the official website for the newly-launched asset, which is set to go public next month.

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