News ID: 210380
Published: 0522 GMT February 21, 2018

Venezuela launches own digital currency ‘Petro’

Venezuela launches own digital currency ‘Petro’

Venezuela has officially launched its own digital currency to become the first country with its own oil-backed cryptocurrency.

The currency would be traded at the secondary market both at home and abroad starting from April. However, official figures released on Wednesday showed it was already being welcomed by investors.

President Nicolas Maduro said preliminary sales of Venezuelan cryptocurrency – named ‘Petro’ – had reached 735 million US Dollars.

"We already saw the intentions to buy Petro worth 4.77 billion Yuan, which equals 596 million Euros, or 735 million US Dollars," Maduro was quoted as saying during a ceremony to present Petro.

"Petro reinforces our independence and economic sovereignty and will allow us to fight the greed of foreign powers that try to suffocate Venezuelan families to seize our oil," he said.

Sales of the digital currency – which Venezuela hopes would enable it to dodge the impacts of US-led financial sanctions – could reach 100 million Petros, with an initial value set at 60 US Dollars, given the price of a barrel of Venezuelan crude oil as of mid-January.

A white paper issued by the Venezuelan government, 38.4 million Petros would be presold from Feb 20 to March 19, 44 million since March 20, and the remaining 17.6 million to be held by the managing authorities established by the government.

The plan to launch Petro was announced by Maduro last year amid an economic crisis and a plunge in the value of the Bolivar, the country's currency. It is based on oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves.

Using the comic character as a code for the United States, Maduro has hinted that Petro could bypass the US financial system, saying, "today, a cryptocurrency is being born that can take on Superman," according to a report by Russia’s Sputnik news agency.

Maduro solemnly announced that he had put the country on the world’s technological forefront, albeit blockchain experts had warned that the Petro was unlikely to draw significant investment due to its deep economic imbalances that will imminently undermine confidence in the new digital currency.

"We have taken a giant step into the 21st Century. We are on the world's technological vanguard,” Maduro said in a nationally broadcast show, as reported by Sputnik.



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