Venezuelan President Announces Increase in Petro’s Price

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced on Thursday the price increase of their national cryptocurrency, the petro, from 3,600 sovereign bolivars to 9,000, effective on Friday. The government continues to sell the petro and issue purchase certificates despite the absence of a wallet for the crypto.

President Maduro has also ordered a 150% increase in the nation’s monthly minimum wage. “The price for the petro cryptocurrency will rise from 3,600 sovereign bolivars [Bs.s] to 9,000,” Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

In August, the Venezuelan President linked the petro’s price to the sovereign bolivar (bolívar soberano), the country’s main currency since August 20. “Each petro, as the anchor point of the sovereign bolívar, will have a value of 3,600 Bs.s,” he said at the time.

As per Venezuelan economist Leonardo Buniak, the petro “was worth 3,600 Bs.s because the Dicom dollar costs 60 and the oil costs 60,” adding that “now a petro is decreed at 9,000 Bs.s … you have just devalued the sovereign bolivar with respect to the petro and by more than 100%.” 

“Anchoring the bolivar to the petro is anchoring it to nothing,” he elaborated, asserting that “the petro cannot be called a cryptocurrency because the value was given by President Maduro and not the interaction between supply and demand.”

Buniak also detailed that “when the president decrees that a petro is worth 9,000 Bs.s, what he is saying is that the petro is not a cryptocurrency but a debt title that is predetermined, [which] cannot be mined. It is impossible to think that it is a cryptocurrency when its value is not given by the interaction between supply and demand.”

Moreover, the wallet for the national cryptocurrency is still unavailable. Links to download it for Linux and Windows still shows the message: “This wallet will soon be available for your operating system.” Venezuelan economic minister and former vice president Tarek El Aissami recently noted that Google has removed the petro wallet’s Android app.

The petro code is unavailable to the public as well, therefore independent confirmation of its functionality or existence is impossible. In addition, no published data or charts show the petro network’s stability or health, like mining hashrate, transaction throughput, confirmation times, network activity, or other basic crypto statistics.

While the petro white paper indicates one block per minute, the government’s block explorer for the currency presently displays an overall 3,138 blocks.

Despite the lack of digital currency traits, Venezuelan crypto regulator Sunacrip has been selling the petro since October. Buyers receive certificates of purchase upon the completion of KYC verification involving fingerprinting.

On November 26, President Maduro announced that “tourism zones will be created in which services will be paid in international cryptocurrencies, in the petro government cryptocurrency, and in international currencies.”