Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Announces Launch of Country’s ‘Petro’ Cryptocurrency, Availability Date


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On Monday, Oct. 1, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the official launch of the country’s official cryptocurrency, called Petro, alongside the release of the Spanish-language white paper for the coin.

Available for Purchase Next Month

According to Maduro, the cryptocurrency will be available for purchase starting November 5, when Venezuelan residents will be able to exchange the current fiat currency the Bolivar Soberano for Petro. Maduro announced in the new white paper that Petro, now the national cryptocurrency of Venezuela, will include support from gold, diamond, iron, and aluminum crypto-assets.

Maduro said in a message posted Monday:

“Historic day for the Homeland. The official international and national launch of PETRO. Guarantee of the prosperity of our beautiful Venezuela for the consolidation of the socialist model for the benefit of our people.” 

Maduro also created on Monday night an organization to oversee his country’s crypto assets, which he has dubbed the National Superintendency of Cryptoactives and Related Activities, or Sunacrip. President Maduro said in a release that this launch is the start of a ten-year plan involving Petro and that he hopes to use it to stabilize the country’s economy.

Backed by Commodities

The main commodity of Venezuela Maduro is using to back his cryptocurrency seems to be the country’s oil reserves. He said via state media that starting November 5 Venezuelans will be able to register for and participate in Petro, which will be open for the next two months and operate “in two speeds.”

People are now reportedly able to exchange bolivars for Petro, and those units of cryptocurrency will be backed by Venezuela’s oil, gold, diamond, iron, and aluminum assets. Holders of Petro will then be able to use their crypto for international transactions. Users must create a wallet on the website set up for the purpose by the Venezuelan government.

Is it Ethical to Invest in the Petro? A Close Look at Venezuela’s New Cryptocurrency
Related: Venezuela: Petro Cryptocurrency Becomes National Unit-of-Account

According to that site, the Petro is the “first crypto asset issued and endorsed by a sovereign state.” It uses the X11 hash algorithm and uses a hybrid of the PoS and PoW algorithms to protects its customer’s assets. Petro’s API is also available on the site for developers to download.

According to Al Jazeera, Venezuela will “pre-mine” the currency and the government will be the one to control it. It has already allocated five billion barrels of oil to back Petro, and the price will be tied to the price of Venezuelan oil.

During the pre-sale period, the Petro is being sold in fiat currency and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. After the presale period, Petro will be available for purchase will bolivars.

Once residents purchase them, they’ll reportedly be able to buy goods and services at vendors who accept the currency. Government Cryptocurrency Superintendent Carlos Vargas said that “in a short future, Venezuelans can buy in the bakery with the Petro.”

Whether the currency will help the country still remains to be seen. According to Al Jazeera, Venezuela has deals in place with Brazilian companies to accept the currency, but U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order barring American businesses from accepting it, and U.S. officials have called the currency a “scam.”

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