Venezuela to launch 'petro gold' cryptocurrency backed by gold - Maduro

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- Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro said on February 20 that Venezuela had received $735 million on the first day of a presale of the country's crypto-currency, dubbed petro.

Maduro is hoping the petro will allow the ailing OPEC member to skirt USA sanctions as the bolivar currency plunges to record lows and it struggles with hyperinflation and a collapsing socialist economy. It contains a guide on how to set up a virtual wallet for the currency, which the government claims will be backed by oil produced by the state-owned oil company, PDVSA. Strong interest was expected from Turkey, Qatar, Europe and the United States when the sale is opened up, according to Venezuela's crypto regulator, Carlos Vargas.

On Tuesday, he said the petro raised $735 million in the first day of a pre-sale. Buyers can use either crypto of fiat to purchase the token.

Venezuela's Communications and Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said later that after the two sides agreed on all the points, the opposition changed its stance because of "interference of other side".

Government white paper on petro English (graphic). But the opposition-controlled legislature has declared the petro illegal, meaning it may well refuse to honor the coin once current leaders eventually depart.

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Maduro's government has designated the PTR token legal tender, which means it can be used to pay taxes in the same that the country's fiat currency the bolivar can.

The bolivar is nearly worthless because of the hyperinflation that has plagued the economy in recent months.

"Within the framework of policies to strengthen monetary sovereignty and promote welfare by bringing power closer to its citizens, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has chose to embark on an ambitious project for the future, with the vision of turning the country into a blockchain-based solutions development hub for emerging economies", the site noted. "Petro will be an instrument for the creation of a freer, balanced and fair global financial system", the website states. It is for this reason that the experiment being conducted by Caracas is of interest to Russian Federation, where there is speculation that a "cryptorouble" is in the works as a way of circumventing U.S. economic sanctions.

Maduro said Venezuela is the victim of an "economic war" led by opposition politicians with the help of the government of US President Donald Trump.

"The new cryptocurrency will be backed by reserves of Venezuelan wealth in gold, oil, gas, and diamonds".

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