On February 21, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced that next week, his government will launch a state-issued, gold-backed cryptocurrency, the petro oro.
The presale of the government's oil-backed cryptocurrency, known as the petro, had begun on February 20, and Maduro claimed it brought in $735 million during that first day alone.
When the petro was originally announced in December 2017, a press release explained that it would be backed by oil, gold, gas, and other natural resources. Subsequent official statements on the currency left out references to non-oil resources. Wednesday's proclamation on the petro oro leaves open the question of whether Venezuela's government will issue additional virtual currencies backed by other state-owned assets.
Since the initial announcement of plans for a state-issued cryptocurrency, various details of the petro project have appeared to change without any official explanation. One notable example: the cryptocurrency will apparently be based on NEM tokens, though earlier documentation had described an Ethereum-based Petro.
Maduro made the first public mention of the petro oro during a campaign event at the National Theater in Caracas, where he said that the digital asset would be "even more powerful" than the petro and that it would "strengthen the petro as a Venezuelan cryptocurrency." He will be standing for reelection on April 22.
Maduro reportedly did not offer details on how much gold would back the proposed virtual currency.
Opposition legislators in Venezuela have previously called the petro scheme, which Maduro himself described as a means to "overcome" the difficulties wrought by sanctions, an illegal "forward sale of Venezuelan oil."
Translations by the author.