"Petro" Cryptocurrency Pre-Sale Raises $735M USD, Venezuela's President Claims

People from vegetable sellers to taxi drivers have registered to use mobile payment applications to attract customers who do not have enough paper money, which is in short supply during the country's economic crisis.

In a statement, the group said the April vote was "simply a show by the government to demonstrate a legitimacy it doesn't have amid the agony and suffering of Venezuelans".

Speaking at the launch on Tuesday, Maduro claimed that the currency is meant to help solve his country's grave economic problems. Venezuela struggles with hyperinflation and a socialist economy that is in trouble. Maduro hopes that oil will allow the affected OPEC member to compensate the U.S. sanctions, while the currency Bolivar is falling to record levels, and the country is struggling with hyperinflation and a collapsing socialist economy. The Venezuelan president, however, did not give details about the initial investors and there was no evidence presented for his figure. He added that many transactions in tourism, gasoline and oil can be carried out with Petro. According to the country's opposition leaders, the petro sale is an illegal debt issuance and is not in line with the country's legislature.

Some US lawmakers have also expressed concerns about petro, and asked the country's Treasury Department in January to monitor and restrict the currency.

The Venezuelan government on Tuesday launched its official cryptocurrency called "petro", and also announced its pre-sale.

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Caracas said that each unit of the petro is pegged to the price of one barrel of Venezuelan oil.

"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 made a decision 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.

Though the government move attracted criticisms within the country and outside, the establishment was not anxious about it.

The official website for the petro has published a guide to setting up a virtual wallet to keep the cryptocurrency. The cost of all 100 million tokens would be slightly over 6 billion United States dollars, according to data provided by Nicolas Maduro in recent months, although no new price information was provided. However, during his recent evening address, Maduro did not reveal any new price information. Petros represent nothing more than a promise against the 300 million barrels of oil that Venezuela believes they can recover but have yet to pull from the ground. The opposition leaders have also said the sale is an illegal debt issue that is circumventing the Venezuelan legislature, while the US Treasury Department warned that this could break the sanctions imposed previous year.

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