The Venezuelan government says it raised $735m in the first day of the pre-sale of its cryptocurrency, the petro.
President Nicolás Maduro tweeted late on Tuesday that the cryptocurrency reaffirmed the country’s economic sovereignty and celebrated the petro as a “big solution” to Venezuela’s ills, as the country economy is battered by hyper inflation and US sanctions.
The launch of the petro comes as Venezuela suffers one of the biggest economic crises in Latin American history. Its economy has shrunk by about a third over the past five years and the International Monetary Fund expects gross domestic product to contract by 15% this year.
The IMF forecasts an inflation rate of 13,000% for 2018. The petro is backed by the country’s vast oil reserves and a white paper on the cryptocurrency said 100m petro coins will be issued. Of that, 38.4m will be sold through a pre-sale at the reference price of $60.
The pre-sale runs until March 19. A further 44m coins will be sold through an initial offer starting on March 20 with the same reference price, while the country’s Superintendency of Currency and Related Activities will retain 17.6m tokens. Venezuela will accept the petro as payment for taxes, fees and public services, according to the white paper.
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