Venezuela’s Controversial Petro Cryptocurrency Is Now Officially on Sale

John Vibes
  • After many delays, the Venezuelan government's controversial fiat cryptocurrency, the Petro, is finally on sale.
  • However, the currency may struggle to find market share among so many trusted and decentralized alternatives.

After many delays, the struggling Venezuelan government has finally begun selling its fiat cryptocurrency, the Petro. Last month, Venezuelan officials issued a statement announcing that the currency was listed on some of the world's largest exchanges, but the listing was nowhere to be found, and the government was silent about the project until the new round of announcements this week.

According to Venezuela’s vice president of the economy, Tareck El Aissami, the Petro can now be purchased directly from the Superintendency of Cryptoassets and Related Activities (Sunacrip). However, the launch is already off to a rocky start, as the official wallets have been removed from the Google app store, and are no longer available through the Petro website. So far, most of the support for the Petro has come from local politicians, some of whom were photographed purchasing Petro at Sunacrip’s headquarters.

After the purchases, the politicians were given certificates of ownership and answered questions for reporters.

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Petro Backing

The government of Venezuela insists that the Petro will be backed by oil, which if true, could prevent the government from excessively printing money and devaluing the currency, a policy which has generated the current economic crisis in the country.

Petro’s recently released whitepaper specifies that the currency is backed by a portfolio of gold oil and diamond. It is important to note that the public has lost significant trust in the Venezuelan government and its central bank as a result of the hyperinflation crisis, and the sloppy roll-out of the Petro. Moreover, many Venezuelan citizens have already become comfortable using more trusted and decentralized cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin Cash (BCH), and dash (DASH).

Ironically enough, Ethereum developer Joey Zhou pointed out last month that the whitepaper for the Petro seems in fact to be a “blatant Dash clone.”

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro claims that all oil purchases in and out of the country will be paid in Petro, which could be where the most popular use case for this blockchain if it is rejected by the citizens. Venezuela is one of the world’s top exporters of oil, so if they were able to require foreign buyers to trade with them in Petro, it has the potential to turn the crypto into a valuable asset; For now however, it seems that this is a risk not many seem willing to take.

Crypto Exchange Famous for XRP Pairs Bitsane Pulls Exit Scam on 246,000 Users

Bitsane, a cryptocurrency exchange that rose to fame after being promoted on media outlets as a platform to buy XRP, has recently pulled an exit scam on its over 246,000 users, potentially stealing millions.

According to Forbes, the Irish-based cryptocurrency exchange disappeared without a trace last week, and its social media accounts have been taken down. Account holders told the news outlet attempts to withdraw cryptocurrency started failing in May, with Bitsane claiming at the time withdrawals were disabled temporarily for “technical reasons.”

The website and its social media accounts were taken down on June 17, and emails to Bitsane started being returned as undeliverable, Forbes reports. Most of the scam’s victims claim to have lost up to $5,000 worth of cryptocurrency, although one user claimed to have lost $150,000 worth of XRP and BTC it had on Bitsane.

The user was quoted as saying:

I was trying to transfer XRP out to bitcoin or cash or anything, and it kept saying ‘temporarily disabled. I knew right away there was some kind of problem. I went back in to try to look at those tickets to see if they were still pending, and you could no longer access Bitsane.

Bitsane’s website, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, claims the exchange had 246,000 users as of May 30 of this year. The exchange itself reportedly traded around $7 million worth of crypto as of March 31.

Bitsane Recommended to Buy XRP

Notably, the cryptocurrency exchange was recommended by CNBC on a report on “how to buy XRP, one of the hottest bitcoin competitors.” The report explained how to buy bitcoin and ether from San Francisco-based exchange Coinbase, to then transfer it to Bitsane and buy XRP.

Forbes claims that three of the five victims it spoke to heard about the exchange through the CNBC report, although at one point Bitsane was listed as an exchange to buy XRP on Ripple’s own website.

The exchange was launched back in November of 2016, but it reportedly gained most of its users in the 2017 bull run and in 2018. The company filed for dissolution in May of this year, and some of the victims have already report the situation to the FBI.