Cryptocurrency, Petro Coin–In a move that could have potential ramifications for cryptocurrency and economies around the world, Venezuela has officially launched the first state-backed “cryptocurrency” in the form of the Petro coin. While numerous questions remain surrounding the legitimacy of the currency, a move that many see being carried out in both desperation and an attempt to capitalize on the crypto/blockchain fever that has overtaken fintech markets during the last year–Venezuela’s government will provide a sandbox for how crypto integration should and should not be conducted going forward.
While traditional cryptocurrencies have sought to operate outside of government influence, free of the political and bureaucratic policies that often hamper most currencies operating in free markets, the Petro coin embraces government oversight whole-heartedly, having been spawned from the financial administration that is currently overseeing one of the worst currency inflation crises in modern history. Beginning on Oct. 29 and announced via Twitter, the Venezuelan Economy department has begun offering Petro coins for purchase with fiat through the coin’s official website or from a handful of cryptocurrency exchanges that have been vetted and authorized by the government to conduct sales for the coin.
“The Petro may be acquired by legal and natural persons from its web portal.”
— Vicepresidencia de Economía (@ViceEconomia) October 29, 2018
Currently, the coin appears to be for sale via the country’s treasury in exchange for U.S. dollars, Chinese yuan, or euros, in addition to several cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Litecoin, with some confusion remaining about the sale originally allowing for Ethereum and DASH purchases (DASH, in particular, has managed to gain a strong foothold in the country as astronomical inflation has led people to look for alternatives to the bolivar for day to day transactions).
While details about the official launch and developmental support for the coin going forward are rather scant, a surprising move consider the scale of such a project that is the first of its kind, the Venezuelan government has appointed a superintendent of crypto assets and related activities, Joselit Ramirez, who is in charge of overseeing and handling customer services complaints and issues with the coin, as well as helping transition citizens who are looking to use the coin over the now largely defunct bolivar.
As CoinTelegraph pointed out, while the Venezuelan government has tabbed six cryptocurrency exchanges to officially sell the Petro coin in exchange for fiat and other cryptos, none of the platforms crack the top-100 exchanges by the metrics offered through CoinMarketCap. Considering the decentralization and effective tendered nature of cryptocurrencies, this could become a misnomer in the near future as buyers of the Petro are free to develop their own marketplaces for trading the coin–a move that could provide some relief from the current interference of government influence over the coin and provide an alternative to purchasing directly through the treasury.
While a app-based wallet was also announced to be launched alongside the currency, made specifically for new investors and users of the Petro coin, it has since been pulled from Google Play, leading to even greater uncertainty and doubt into the exact nature and reliability of the coin moving forward.