It's been reported that on January 5, 2018, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced that 100 million petros, the nation's soon-to-be-minted cryptocurrency, will be backed by a commodity that the country is rich in: oil.
"I've ordered the issue of 100 million petros, based on national wealth. Each petro will have the value of a barrel of Venezuela's oil," said Maduro. The president also called for an initial national meeting of the country's petro miners on January 14, at which time he will reveal the project's whitepaper.
The petro was announced by Maduro in an effort to enrich the nation's "sovereignty and independence." Petroleum products account for the gross majority of exporting income that Venezuela sees annually, and Venezuela holds the world's largest reservoir of crude oil. Meanwhile, the bolivar, Venezuela's national currency, has become relatively worthless; its value is now assessed in weight rather than the numbers printed on the bills. So, given the massive reserves of petroleum in Venezuela, it would seem to make sense to back a cryptocurrency with a barrel of oil as opposed to the national fiat.
Maduro's move to create a cryptocurrency does not have support across the political aisle. Jose Guerra, a lawmaker and head of the National Assembly's Finance Commission, has criticized the validity of the oil reserve by which the petro is backed. He told press:
"The cryptocurrency cannot be issued with oil reserves as a guarantee. Article 3 of the Organic Hydrocarbon law of Venezuela establishes that oil reserves [can] not [be] exploited, that is to say, those that are in the subsoil and that are very abundant, cannot be placed as a guarantee of any commercial or financial operation."
According to local sources, token issuance "will be done by virtual exchange houses that are currently in a trial period."
When the whitepaper is released to the general public, experts and miners will have an opportunity to scrutinize it and perhaps provide feedback.