VENEZUELAN President Nicolas Maduro announced the launch of a new digital “crypto-currency” on Sunday in the face of a financial “world war.”
The “petro” currency will be backed by Venezuelan reserves of gold, oil, gas, and diamonds, the president said during a marathon seasonal edition of his Sundays with Maduro TV programme.
“This is going to allow us to move forward to new ways of international financing for the country’s economic and social development,” Mr Maduro said.
It appears intended to be a way of avoiding US sanctions imposed on Venezuela, its state oil company PDVSA and individual officials.
But few specifics have been announced. Other crypto-currencies have values that fluctuate wildly — being treated more like speculative assets than a true currency, and appearing mostly to be used for money-laundering.
Venezuela’s actual currency, the bolivar, has reduced in value by 57 per cent recently due to eased currency controls.
Economists supportive of Venezuela have urged the government to go further to take the wind out of a lucrative black market in US dollars, which has helped fuel inflation in the country.