Venezuelan Government is Reportedly Encouraging Citizens to Buy Property with the Petro

The government of Venezuela is reportedly planning to encourage its citizens to buy property using the controversial Petro cryptocurrency.

Ildemaro Villarroel, Venezuela’s minister for Habitat and Housing, told local news outlets that there was real estate currently available under the nation’s Great Housing Mission scheme. There is also a 10% discount being offered on all property that is purchased using the Petro, according to the Prensa Latina.

Since its launch, the Petro has been promoted primarily by Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro. He has claimed that the national cryptocurrency is backed by the country’s vast oil reserves and that Venezuela will be able to use the digital asset to freely engage in trade relations with other nations.

Planning To Build 3 Million Housing Units By End Of 2019

Notably, there are currently 15 local construction companies that are prepared to conduct transactions using the state-backed digital currency. Commenting on the nation’s housing and real estate program, Villarroel said that the government was working with private companies to provide low cost housing and the initiative would also promote the use of Petro for acquiring property.

At present, there are 2,508,603 residential properties that have been built under Venezuela’s Great Housing Mission. The program’s goal is to build 3 million housing units by the end of this year. Introduced in 2011 by the former (late) Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, the housing program aims to help local residents that were affected by the severe flooding which took place during 2010-2011.

Although the housing fund is available to all Venezuelan citizens who may have been displaced or lost their homes, it is mainly intended for people that may not be able to afford buying property due to crippling hyperinflation.

Venezuela Fights Back Against International Sanctions

As CryptoGlobe reported last week, the Venezuelan government had filed a complaint against the US before the World Trade Organization (WTO). The South American country’s government has accused the US of violating the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

The accusations have been made in response to the renewal of US government-led political and economic sanctions enforced on Venezuela. As stated in the complaint document, the US has imposed (what Venezuela’s government considers) “discriminatory coercive trade-restrictive measures with respect to transactions in Venezuelan digital currency”.

As covered, Reuters had performed a four-month long investigation last year in Venezuela which was focused on determining whether the Petro was actually being used for local or global transactions. Notably, the reporting agency found “no evidence” of the so-called national cryptocurrency being used by Venezuela's citizens or businesses.

Coinbase Commerce Now Lets Merchants Accept USD Coin (USDC)

On Monday (May 20), Coinbase announced that "Coinbase Commerce", which provides non-custodial cryptocurrency payment solutions, now allows businesses to accept fully dollar-collateralized stablecoin USDC.

History of USDC

As CryptoGlobe reported on 26 September 2018, "USDC Coin" (USDC for short) was launched on that day by Goldman-funded FinTech startup Circle Internet Financial (better known as "Circle"). This is a regulated fully-collateralized dollar-backed stablecoin that was originally announced on 16 May 2018. USDC is based on an open source fiat stablecoin framework developed and governed by the CENTRE project.

Circle said at the time that the problems with existing fiat-backed solutions (such as Tether's USDT) were that they "have lacked financial and operational transparency, have operated in unregulated jurisdictions with unknown banking and audit partners, and have been built as closed-loop ecosystems and closed proprietary technologies."

In contrast, Circle's USDC stablecoin deals with these issues by "providing detailed financial and operational transparency" and "operating within the regulated framework of US money transmission laws, reinforced by established banking partners and auditors." USDC tokens are ERC-20 compatible (meaning that they run on the Ethereum blockchain); they are minted, issued, and burnt/redeemed based on network rules defined by CENTRE. 

Coinbase's Previous Involvement With USDC

On 23 October 2018, Circle announced that Coinbase (another member of the CENTRE consortium) was making USDC available to its customers on Coinbase Consumer and Coinbase Pro, and that customers could "tokenize dollars into USDC and redeem USDC into dollars through both Circle and Coinbase."

Then, on May 14, Coinbase said via a blog post titled "Expanding USDC crypto trading globally" that:

  • It was making USDC trading available on Coinbase Consumer and Coinbase Pro in 85 countries.

  • It was doing this to help "accelerate the global adoption of crypto trading" and to provide wider access to "a stable store of value."

  • There are more than 300 million USDC tokens currently in circulation today, and that USDC is supported by 100+ ecosystem partners.

  • Stablecoins "have the potential to materially improve the lives of people in countries where inflation is eroding wealth." 

  • Coinbase serves customers in 103 jurisdictions.

Coinbase Commerce and USDC

Coinbase Commerce was launched on 14 February 2018. Coinbase described Coinbase Commerce as a new service that "enables merchants to accept multiple cryptocurrencies directly into a user-controlled wallet," and that in contrast to its previous merchant products, it was "not a hosted service, so merchants have full control of their own digital currency." Four cryptocurrencies were supported back then: Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ether (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC).

Coinbase Commerce can be "directly integrated into a merchant’s checkout flow or added as a payment option on an e-commerce platform." Initially, the only e-commerce platform supported was Shopify, but on 6 August 2018, support for WooCommerce was added.

Yesterday's blog post said that now Coinbase Commerce has added support for stablecoin USDC, thereby allowing "businesses to accept payments online in the same way they’re able to accept cash in-store." 

Here are a few things to note about Coinbase Commerce:

  • "Coinbase Commerce doesn’t charge any fees to process payments."
  • "Coinbase Commerce accounts are completely separate from Coinbase accounts."
  • "You can use the withdraw functionality to send cryptocurrency to an address associated with your Coinbase account."

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