Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has announced a new cryptocurrency amid an economic crisis and a plunge in the value of the bolivar, the country's national currency.
According to Reuters, Maduro made the announcement during a Christmas television special, stating that the as-yet-to-be-launched cryptocurrency would be backed by commodity reserves, including oil.
The statement reads (according to a rough translation):
Opposition leaders in Venezuela have reportedly dismissed the idea. Reuters quoted lawmaker Angel Alvarado, who said the idea has "no credibility."
"It's Maduro being a clown," Alvarado told the news service.
The move comes amid a plunge in the value of the bolivar against the U.S. dollar and weeks after the government issued a new 100,000-bolivar note, according to Business Insider. As the New York Times reported yesterday, rapid inflation of the bolivar has led to a surge in consumer prices that has exacerbated the crisis there.
The "petro" announcement is also notable development given that some residents of Venezuela have turned to bitcoin mining in an effort to make money amid the crisis.
noted in September that low electricity costs have made mining – an energy-intensive process by which new transactions are added to a blockchain, minting new coins in the process – an attractive option there.
Per the statement, the government also intends to create a "blockchain observatory" that will be affiliated with the Ministry of Popular Power for University Education, Science and Technology.
Editor's Note: Some of the statements in this report have been translated from Spanish.
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