The government of Venezuela has today claimed to have raised as much as $735 million from the first issue of its resources-backed cryptocurrency, the petro.
Announced by the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, the message was shared on Twitter, without supporting evidence to back up the claims – a factor that has caused doubt amongst some analysts.
The Tweet confirmed earlier remarks made by the president this week on the currency, which was opened to investors for the first time. Speaking on a state broadcast earlier in the week, Maduro first suggested the launch had been a success.
“Today, a cryptocurrency is being born that can take on Superman…We have taken a giant step into the 21st century.”
In a translation of his tweet marking the figures, Maduro declared that the launch had been a success from the off, raising some 4.77 billion yuan from the token launch.
“To big troubles, big solutions! From the first minute the game started well, and we started winning: 4.777 billion yuan or 735 million dollars is the initial result of Petro’s purchase intention operations.”
The petro has proven hugely controversial, both internationally and within Venezuela itself. The official opposition has branded the move unconstitutional, as a proxy for state borrowing without the required approval of parliament.
Others have criticised the economic case for the currency, which is backed by state oil resources. With Venezuela notably suffering from extreme economic hardship, and question marks over the integrity of the regime, others are simply wary of any commercial dealings with the Venezuelan government.
The proposal to launch the petro was based on a desire to evade US economic sanctions, and to enable Venezuelans to transact with the wider world. Yet at the time of press, there are still no indications as to how the cryptocurrency will operate, with conflicting reports suggesting either an ethereum based model or NEM.
Regardless, the proposals mark the first such occasion when a country has elected to issue its own, state-backed cryptocurrency. While the petro is not without its critics, in the US, Venezuela and across the wider world, it could nevertheless prove an interesting test case for other governments considering working with cryptocurrencies.