Venezuela to launch ‘petro’, a cryptocurrency backed by oil and other reserves

The country of Venezuela has been mired in economic crisis for years. Now, its government is turning to cryptocurrency in hopes of turning things around.

Venezuela’s president has teased the launch of the “Petro,” a new digital cryptocurrency that would help the country “advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions, and overcome the financial blockade,” according to Reuters

The motivation for Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro to launch a second currency isn’t surprising. Venezuela’s economy has been collapsing. The nation faces rampant inflation, huge debt, and strict sanctions imposed by the U.S. Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have skyrocketed in value. 

But financial experts remained skeptical of the development. For one, there’s little information on how the currency would function in Venezuela. The “petro” would be backed by the country’s oil, gas, gold, and diamond reserves, but that’s about as much as we know. 

“It’s Maduro being a clown. This has no credibility,” Angel Alvarado, an opposition lawmaker and economist, told Reuters.

He teased the launch of the new digital currency during a five-hour Christmas special televised Sunday.

There’s doubt that Venezuela would be able to manage the currency. Maduro took office in 2013. Over the last four years, the country’s socioeconomic collapse has continued to worsen.

“Even if the ‘petro’ does launch, there is no fundamental reason to hold the currency except as a tool of outright speculation,” David Coker, lecturer in accounting, finance, and governance at Westminster Business School, told Quartz

from Mashable!