Maduro: Venezuela to create new 'petro' cryptocurrency

Venezuela to launch oil-backed cryptocurrency to counter Washington's 'economic sabotage'

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Venezuela is creating a digital currency to combat a financial blockade by the United States, President Nicolas Maduro announced Sunday.

Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader who took office in 2013, didn't reveal a lot about the yet to be launched cryptocurrency named "Petro", or how the country would go by developing and distributing it but did proclaim "the 21st century has arrived!"

It will be called the Petro and be backed up by Venezuela's reserves of oil and gas and its gold and diamond holdings, the president said in his weekly television program. Per the Venezuelan leader the petro will help Venezuela overcome the country's financial "blockade". The real currency, the bolivar, is in freefall, and the country is sorely lacking in basic needs like food and medicine.

Venezuela is to launch its own cryptocurrency to counter what it describes as Washington's "economic sabotage" in the shape of financial sanctions, the country's President Nicolas Maduro confirmed via a national broadcast.

The Trump administration has levied sanctions against Venezuelan government officials, state oil executives and its debt issuance, hurting Venezuela's ability to move money around as it faces a heavy debt burden, according to the news agency. As a result, the minimum wage per month has dropped to a meager $4.30.

Opposition leaders blasted the announcement, saying it needed congressional approval, while others doubted it will ever see the light of day in an economy with a dim outlook on its horizon, Reuters reported.

Maduro's pivot away from the USA dollar comes after the recent spectacular rise of bitcoin BTC=BTSP, which has been fuelled by signs that the digital currency is slowly gaining traction in the mainstream investment world.

Sources say compliance departments are scrutinizing transactions linked to Venezuela, which has slowed some bond payments and complicated certain oil exports.

Maduro's government has a poor track record in monetary policy.