Venezuela might be about to pay crypto the ultimate compliment and use it in the exact same way it has forced many of its oppressed citizens to use it – to avoid sanctions. A report in Bloomberg on Thursday states that president Nicolas Maduro, who has spent the best part of a year forcing the nation to adopt his Petro cryptocurrency, might finally be coming round to the benefits of genuinely decentralized currencies as the Venezuelan central bank considers if the country’s stash of BTC and ETH can count as foreign reserves.
Oil Suppliers Could Get Paid in BTC?
Bloomberg cites four people with “direct knowledge of the matter” as saying that the central bank is running “internal tests” to see if it can hold cryptocurrencies in its coffers on orders of the state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA oil company, who want to send BTC and ETH to the central bank with which they would pay the company’s suppliers. This would allow Maduro to further skirt the economic sanctions that have virtually isolated it from the global financial system, with inflation running rampant and citizens forced to use the likes of BTC and DASH which have proved a more stable and reliable alternative to the bolivar or the Petro. Venezuela’s international reserves are at a three-decade low of $7.9 billion, which has led to a separate team apparently investigating whether cryptocurrencies can be counted towards this total.
Venezuela’s Crypto Relationship – It’s Complicated
Venezuela has had a fractious relationship with cryptocurrency over the past twelve months, with a clampdown issued in September 2018 on non-Petro cryptocurrencies shortly after launching the sovereign cryptocurrency, followed five months later by the introduction of 63 separate bills that tried to allow the government to spy on the nation’s cryptocurrency use. A government-controlled BTC and LTC remittance platform was launched in March in an attempt to use external cryptocurrencies to benefit the country, but the platform was wildly unpopular, leading to this last throw of the dice which might see the country’s reserves fluctuating with the notoriously volatile crypto prices. The fact that Maduro thinks this could be better than the current situation speaks volumes for the parlous state Venezuela is in.