The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, announced a new cryptocurrency backed by oil as the country struggles with an economic crisis and a plunge in the value of the country’s national currency, the bolivar.
According to Reuters, the president announced the cryptocurrency during a Christmas television special, stating that this new digital coin will be backed by commodity reserves, including oil.
Maduro took office in 2013 and ever since Venezuela has witnessed a worsening socio-economic crisis. He claimed that this new cryptocurrency would help the country overcome the financial crisis. His official statement reads:
“Venezuela will create a…cryptocurrency to advance monetary sovereignty, as it will help to overcome the financial blockade and thus move towards new forms of international financing for the economic and social development of the country.”
However, opposition leaders do not seem to be happy with the president’s new idea. Lawmaker Angel Alvarado, quoted by Reuters, said that this idea has no credibility.
“It’s Maduro being a clown,” Alvarado told Reuters.
The president’s move comes after the bolivar plunged in value against the USD as the government in Venezuela issued a new 100,000-bolivar note, according to Business Insider. Rapid inflation of the bolivar has led to a surge in consumer prices, which exacerbated the economic crisis Venezuela was going through.
The “petro” announcement becomes even more important as news came out that some of the citizens of Venezuela have resorted to mining Bitcoin in order to deal with the financial crisis.
The Atlantic noted in September the electricity has a low price in the country and therefore mining became a very attractive option.
Maduro also stated that the government intends to create a “blockchain observatory”, which would be affiliated with the Ministry of Popular Power for University Education, Science and Technology.