Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, has reportedly ordered Banko de Venezuela, the country’s largest bank, to accept Petro, the government-backed crypto asset, to further drive adoption. Maduro’s statement came at the bank’s 10th nationalization ceremony; a ceremony to commemorate the state’s decade-long ownership of the bank. In a statement, the president made an emphatic order to the bank, saying that the latter should immediately open Petro transaction desks at all of its agencies.
The order was the latest in a string of ardent crypto campaigns led by the Venezuelan government. Maduro himself announced recently that he would distribute over a million cryptocurrency wallets to its citizens, while the government will prioritize the training of youths in pretty much all things crypto.
Venezuela is seen as one of the countries at the forefront of developing a government-backed digital asset. While nations like Iran and Russia have flirted with the idea time and again, the South American country has forged ahead and is doing everything to ensure that Petro gains enough traction.
Petro was officially launched in October 2018, when a Twitter announcement from the Venezuelan Department of Economy revealed that it was now offering the coin for sale in exchange for both fiat and crypto.
At the time, the Department claimed that the asset was only available in exchange for the Dollar, Euro, and Yuan, as well as a few cryptocurrencies; Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Dash (DASH).
However, things haven’t quite gone as planned since then. Just last week, Maduro suddenly raised the price of the asset from the equivalent of 3,600 sovereign bolivars to 9,000. The wallet for the asset is still unavailable, and there was even a point when Petro’s official Twitter account was inaccessible.
Maduro’s price increase was especially criticized, with many claiming that a petrol-backed cryptocurrency was a terrible idea from the start and the government was only looking to use Petro to launder its dirty money.
Still, Maduro remains defiant in the face of criticism and is now pushing for the Banco de Venezuela to provide support for the asset.
The move was also praised by José Angel Alvarez, president of the National Cryptocurrency Association (ASONACRIP), who claimed that it was a proper incentive to ensure that the country’s fiat currency would have to compete with a digital asset.
Since Maduro’s order, Petro has been able to rise about 25 percent. However, given that a lot of cryptocurrency exchanges around the world don’t accept it yet, there are still a lot of questions to be asked. It might not get to the point where people transact with it as they do with Bitcoin trading and others, but if it can help improve Venezuela’s sanction-ridden economy, then it’s a welcome development nonetheless.