While cryptocurrency and blockchain experts said Venezuela's new digital currency, the "Petro", would not garner significant investment, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday that the country had earned US$735 million on the first day of pre-sales.
“Today, a cryptocurrency is being born that can take on Superman,” said Maduro, using the comic character as a reference to the United States, while giving an address on state television. He added: “For big problems, (we have created a) big solution... We Venezuelans are indomitable.”
Maduro noted that the Petro could be used to conduct sales in tourism, gasoline, and some oil transactions.
Venezuela's Cryptocurrency Superintendent, Carlos Vargas, stated that the Petro has already attracted investors from Qatar, Turkey and other parts of the Middle East, though Europeans and Americans will also participate.”
The cryptocurrency, which will be backed by the country's oil resources, will bring in a new economic era in the nation. Maduro has stated that the goal of the new cryptocurrency is to combat sanctions, the “economic war,” waged by the U.S. government and its junior partners against Venezuela, all the while advancing “on issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and “overcome the financial blockade.”
The launch of the Petro was announced in December. It is regulated by the Superintendence of Cryptocurrencies and Related Activities, as well as the Blockchain Observatory.
Cryptocurrencies typically are not backed by any government or central banks, nor are they regulated. However, the U.S. Security and Exchanges Commission has been increasingly tracking digital currencies, classing some tokens as securities, thus making them subject to oversight.
On this point, Maduro said: "We have taken a giant step into the 21st Century... We are on the world’s technological vanguard.”