Venezuela pegs bolivar to cryptocurrency to save country from economic collapse

Hyper-inflation of more than 1,000,000 per cent means 1 US dollar is now worth 6 million sovereign bolivar

Anthony Cuthbertson
Tuesday 21 August 2018 10:06 BST
What is Bitcoin and why is its price so high?

The president of Venezuela has announced a radical economic reform that will see the country's currency tied to the government's own petro cryptocurrency.

Nicolas Maduro said the plan would involve devaluing the bolivar from 285,000 per dollar to 6 million – a drop of 96 per cent. Before the announcement, inflation in Venezuela was projected to hit 1,000,000 per cent this year, though it is unclear whether Maduro's strategy will help reduce this.

The currency overhaul will also be supplemented by a massive increase for the minimum wage, higher corporate tax rates, and increased subsidies for gas prices.

"I want the country to recover and I have the formula. Trust me," Maduro said on state television on Friday. "They've dollarized our prices. I am petrolising salaries and petrolising prices.

He added: "We are going to convert the petro into the reference that pegs the entire economy's movements."

The petro cryptocurrency was launched earlier this year, initially to supplement Venezuela's free-falling currency, circumvent US sanctions and access international financing.

Cryptocurrencies are also notoriously volatile in price, with bitcoin fluctuating in value between $5,000 and $20,000 since last December.

To get around this, petro was designed to be backed by the country's reserves of oil, gas, gold and diamonds, however it has been widely discredited.

Within a month of launching, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned Americans from investing in the cryptocurrency.

Picture of 10,000 bolivar-bills taken in Caracas on July 26, 2018

The Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratings said petro was "bound to fail", and that its white paper did not sufficiently explain how the cryptocurrency would be tied to oil prices.

"We now have the first-ever state-sponsored cryptocurrency. But it's not exactly time to celebrate," crypto expert Juan Villaverde said in a blog post for the financial rating agency.

"The petro is a worthless token that may or may not be usable for paying taxes in Venezuela."

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in