The Venezuelan government has announced that its national digital currency, the petro, can be exchanged into any cryptocurrency if purchased this year. However, the wallet for the petro is still not available and petro buyers receive certificates of purchase.
Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, visited the headquarters of the Superintendency of Cryptoassets and Related Activities (Sunacrip) last week to sign up for a petro savings plan, the Ministry of Popular Power for Communication and Information (Minci) announced.
Minci is dedicated to promoting the government and communicating its message to the public. Sunacrip is responsible for regulating all crypto-related activities in Venezuela.
During his visit, Maduro offered a new incentive for people to purchase his country’s national digital currency. El Nacional quoted him saying:
''Anyone who buys petro [from now] until December 31 can convert it into any digital currency or international convertible currency, such as bitcoin or yuan.''
He was further quoted by Minci elaborating that “in this special period, from now until December 31,” the petro can be converted and “then in December you can buy what you want, through the internet.”
The petro savings plan was launched on Nov. 5. It can be redeemed after 90 days, 180 days, and 270 days, according to Tarek El Aissami, the country’s economic minister and former vice president. “Within three months I will receive what the petro is worth at the time,” Maduro said.
Buying the Petro
According to Sunacrip, a number of Venezuelans and government officials have purchased the petro since it went on sale on Oct. 29. Purchasers need to complete know-your-customer (KYC) requirements which include being fingerprinted before they are issued a petro certificate of purchase.
Two petro buyers — Omar Prieto, Governor of Zulia, being photographed while holding his ID (left). Manuel Quevedo, Minister of Petroleum, putting his fingerprint on his petro certificate (right).
Meanwhile, the petro currently does not have any of the usual hallmarks of a cryptocurrency. The official wallet for the petro is still unavailable. Links on the official petro website to download both the Windows and Linux wallets return the message “This wallet will soon be available for your operating system.” In addition, El Aissami explained that the Android app for the petro wallet, previously available in the Google Play store, has been removed by Google.
Furthermore, there is no code repository with the Petro code available to the public, so independent confirmation of its existence or functionality is impossible. There are also no published charts or data showing the health of the Petro network, such as network activity, confirmation times, transaction throughput, mining hashrate, or other basic cryptocurrency statistics.
Despite the petro’s whitepaper describing a block time of one block per minute on average, the government’s own block explorer shows only 743 total blocks at the time of this writing — over a month after the explorer was published and its first block displayed.
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Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the Venezuelan government.