The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has announced an order requiring Banco de Venezuela —the country’s biggest bank— to open desks for transactions in Petros in each of its near 790 agencies across the country.
“I am giving the explicit order to open Petro transaction desks at all Banco de Venezuela agencies.”
The announcement occurred during an event celebrating the tenth anniversary of the bank’s nationalization after the country purchased it from Santander Group in 2009.
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This strategy seems to be part of an aggressive plan to promote the use of cryptocurrencies throughout the country. Recently, President Nicolas Maduro announced the decision to distribute crypto wallets to one million young citizens. The Venezuelan government will also educate them in areas related to crypto adoption.
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These wallets will come with an undisclosed amount of funds. With this, Maduro’s administration wants to encourage a nationwide acceptance of the polemic Venezuelan crypto.
The unexpected announcement was greeted with optimism by members of the Venezuelan crypto-ecosystem. José Angel Alvarez, president of the National Cryptocurrency Association (ASONACRIP), shared his impressions with CCN, pointing out that Banco de Venezuela’s infrastructure could contribute to promote the adoption of the Venezuelan Petro throughout the country.
He told CCN:
“It is a bold and correct decision to move forward towards a hybrid economy where the fiduciary currency of a country competes face to face with cryptocurrency.
We should also note that Banco de Venezuela is the most important bank in the Venezuelan financial system and has the most significant number of clients. With this decision, this bank would become one of the exchanges with more physical offices in the world”.
The decision triggered a 25% increase in the price of the token, which went from 0.004 BTC to 0.005 BTC in a few hours, for the joy of traders and early adopters: “In Amberes [a local crypto exchange], I bought Petros at 10 dollars” Alvarez said, “Today you cannot buy the token for less than 55 dollars”.
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The Venezuelan government created Petro as a way to bypass the economic sanctions imposed by Donald Trump’s administration against the country’s financial system. These policies have profoundly affected the people of Venezuela, according to the UN Human Rights Office:
“Economic sanctions are effectively compounding the grave crisis affecting the Venezuelan economy, adding to the damage caused by hyperinflation and the fall in oil prices. This is a time when compassion should be expressed for the long-suffering people of Venezuela by promoting, not curtailing, access to food and medicine,” UN human rights expert Idriss Jazairy said in an official press release.
He stressed that these sanctions “can lead to starvation and medical shortage.”
Although it may seem that Venezuelans should happily embrace Petro, the truth is that the government has a steep road ahead to clean up the token’s image: It has been discredited by international experts who consider it a scam, not to say that Venezuelans don’t really know what it is, how much it’s worth, or what benefits it would bring them.
Besides promoting the adoption of the Petro, the installation of this type of offices could also make it possible to exchange Petros for fiat offline, making the use of either one indistinct. In theory, this could turn the token into a real nationwide used official cryptocurrency.
Although Donald Trump’s government banned the use of Petro, the Venezuelan government has not given up; it even legalized cryptocurrencies a means of payment with effects similar to any other traditional currency.
The government’s effort should focus on education rather than airdrops if it wants Petro to succeed. Mr. Alvarez says:
The greatest challenge is the spread of knowledge; also, the Petro needs to make its way down to ordinary citizens; however, there have already been positive trials in which many ordinary Venezuelans started to see with good eyes how their Petro savings in the Patria System have preserved the value of their money.
Nobody knows what will happen to Venezuela and the Petro, however with this initiative, the government sparked a bit of optimism among enthusiasts.
Alvarez told CCN that, from his point of view, Venezuela is getting closer to becoming a nation where blockchain technologies replace traditional banking, definitely changing the country’s financial reality, and perhaps having a global impact.
“The future is promising, Venezuelans paying and collecting salaries in petros and from petros to bitcoins will be a single step with which Venezuela will continue in the vanguard to put an end to world financial hegemony.”