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BY CNA team - October 8, 2018

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Venezuela’s crypto confusion

The petro token’s circulation is still in question
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The latest announcement coming out of Venezuela, that citizens must use the petro token to pay for passports and to extend them starting from Oct 8, is nothing short of confusing.

With the public sale as announced by the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro, commencing on Nov 5, citizens who need passports or renew them will be scrambling to get the elusive tokens.

Until now, there is still no website that links to the sale, including details for foreigners who need to use the token for purchases of the country’s oil.

Last month, there was an announcement that all international commercial transactions must use the token starting this month, although there is still no solid evidence of its circulation.

Since the year started, there has been a number of confusing announcements from Maduro on the petro token, with analysts pointing out that there has been no independent audit on the amount raised from a purported token presale in the beginning of the year.

Government finances must be in a mess too if it is true that since Aug 20, there are two units of accounting – the petro and the reissued national currency, the sovereign bolivar.

There are no clear details on how a country can have two units of accounting, and how that messes with policy.

Since the blockchain technology essentially works on a decentralised ledger, to call the petro a cryptocurrency is misleading as the token will be issued by the Venezuelan government and regulated by a so-called Cryptocurrency Treasury.

Earlier reports pegged the petro at 3,600 sovereign bolivars or US$60, which was, during August, the average price of a barrel of oil.

While Maduro hinted that the petro will be available for trading on six major cryptocurrency exchanges from Oct 1, that has not happened.

Even the white paper detailing information on the token has gone through several changes, with the latest version apparently plagiarised from the Dash white paper. Earlier versions of the white paper claimed that the token will be built on the Ethereum blockchain and the NEM blockchain.

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