Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has claimed that his state-backed cryptocurrency, the petro, has collected over 171,000 confirmed purchase orders since the tokens first went on sale.
According to the president, who made his remarks on Twitter, some 3,500 purchases came from companies, while over 80,000 came from individuals. Payments were made in US dollars in almost 41% of cases, with 33.8% of transactions coming from bitcoin, 18.4% in ether, and 6.5% in euros, according to the president’s statistics.
However, there is some doubt over the real figures, with no further evidence provided by the president to account for the numbers. Local media have confirmed that no petro tokens have thus far been issued, and the government’s petro address has been shown to still contain the full issue of 100 million tokens.
The cryptocurrency, which has yet to be officially issued, has attracted strong criticism at home and internationally, from opposition politicians and the international community alike. Designed as a tool for evading US sanctions, the petro is backed by Venezuela’s state oil reserves.
Opposition politicians claim the cryptocurrency is unconstitutional and illegal, representing a form of borrowing from the government – borrowing which would, under the Venezuelan constitution, require approval from parliament.
Similarly, politicians in the US have strongly condemned the move, as have lawmakers elsewhere, for its intention to evade international sanctions.
Venezuela’s economy has suffered significantly under a combination of misgovernance and international sanctions, largely from the US. With significant economic malaise, and an inability to trade freely with the outside world by virtue of its sanctions, the government is publicly eyeing significant revenues from issuing their tokens.
Many analysts continue to cast doubt over the figures, yet the eyes of the wider world remain fixed on the petro. Notably, there are suggestions that the model, if successful, could be adopted by other regimes subject to international sanctions, as a means of leveraging distributed ledger technology to circumvent the measures.
The development comes just a week after Maduro claimed the token took $735 million on its first day, a figure with similarly scant evidence provided in support.