The Venezuelan government has converted old age pensions into Petro, the nation-backed cryptocurrency.

The news was reported yesterday by Caracas Chronicles, a group blog focused on Venezuelan politics and economics.

Elderly Venezuelans are accustomed to receiving a message every time a government pension arrives. However, on December 7, they received two messages:

“MOTHERLAND WALLET: CREDIT for an amount of Bs.S. 1,800.00 for the concept of Elderly Love Pensions (Third month Christmas bonus 2018) on 12/07/2018

MOTHERLAND WALLET: DEBIT for an amount of Bs.S. 1,800.00 for the concept of Savings in Petro on 12/07/2018”

This indicates that the pension money came but was immediately cashed out for “Savings in Petro”.

Pensions in Petros

President Nicolas Maduro had already announced in August that salaries and pensions would be paid out in Petros. Regardless, this did not prevent many elderly citizens from feeling wronged and confused, as this was all done without their knowledge or consent.

For months now, the government has attributed pensions and bonuses through the carnet de la patria system. The process starts with people receiving a message, they then visit and through the website transfer the money back to their bank accounts.

The Patria website is now showing a new “Savings Plan” option, allowing people to save money by converting it into Petro, and an option to integrate the Petro Wallet with the Patria Wallet. The government is working on ways to have people spend money through the website, without having to withdraw it to the bank. The government wants as much money as possible circulating in Petros and in the carnet de la patria system.

However, despite having been officially launched three times now, no one has been able to use Petro yet. What’s more, the option to convert Petros back to bolivars is so buried between menu options that a guide was created to help people sort it out.

The process of Petro’s development and implementation has been turbulent to say the least. Non-functioning wallets, whitepaper inconsistencies (dash clone accusation), lack of information about development, and dubious crowdfunding numbers ($5 million), are just some of the faults pointed out in the project.

The Price of the Petro

The Caracas Chronicles was quick to note that, according to information on the official Petro website, the value of Petro has increased to 15,000 Soreveign Bolivars (BsS).

This is already the second time in 2 weeks that Nicolas Maduro increases the price of the Petro, previously rising from 3,600 BsS to 9,000 BsS as reported by Cryptoglobe. Petros legitimacy as a cryptocurrency is being questioned by many. Seeing as its price is set by a central authority, instead of market supply and demand, petro resembles more a debt title than a cryptocurrency.