The pre-sale of Venezuela’s cryptocurrency evoked overwhelming response on the first day, the country’s President says. Nicolas Maduro claimed that $735 million was raised within 20 hours of initial sale.
Blockchain experts had warned El Petro (the Petro) is unlikely to attract significant investment.
Maduro launched El Petro, the first national cryptocurrency in the world, as he was flanked by mining rigs in a nationally televised address Tuesday.
“Today, a cryptocurrency is being born that can take on Superman,” said Maduro, apparently referring to the United States.
Venezuela’s economy has been reeling under pressure of the US sanctions, falling oil revenue and the plunging value of its currency, the bolivar.
Maduro hopes the introduction of Petro would help to ease the country’s economic crisis, and circumvent sanctions.
The U.S. government has banned banks and investors from acquiring newly issued Venezuelan debt, disabling the impoverished Latin American country from borrowing abroad to pump in more currency or ease existing debt.
“We started high,” State-sponsored Telesur television network quoted Maduro as saying.
It said Maduro also issued certificates for digital mining, which allows financial and commercial transactions using Petro.
“Together it is possible to build history, we are at the technological forefront of the world,” the President said after ordering the certification of more than 5000 miners who will trade in cryptocurrency.
Digital mining machines are reportedly made in China and assembled in Venezuela.
Venezuela, which has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, has allocated 5342 million barrels of oil in the Ayacucho Block of the Orinoco Oil Belt to back Petro.