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Venezuelan Banks Start Using the Petro to Denominate Customer Balances

Venezuela’s controversial national cryptocurrency, the petro, is slowly permeating the everyday lives of its citizens. The currency, each unit of which is supposedly backed by a barrel of oil, has begun appearing on screens when Venezuelan customers log in to their bank accounts. The move marks the latest attempt by President Nicolás Maduro’s government to force adoption of the petro.

Also read: Venezuela’s Supreme Court Orders Payment in National Cryptocurrency

One Bank Account, Two Balances

In the last few days, a number of  Venezuelan residents have reported seeing the petro appear as a unit of account when performing their online banking. Despite customers having expressed no interest in using the cryptocurrency, national banks have begun to introduce it at the government’s behest, in a bid to normalize the petro and ultimately secure adoption. News.Bitcoin.com has received reports of Banesco and Mercantil, two of Venezuela’s largest banks, introducing the measure.

Venezuelan Banks Start Using the Petro to Denominate Customer Balances
This is what customers of Banesco and Mercantil now see upon logging in to their online bank accounts.

When customers of these banks now log in, they see their balance denominated in two currencies: the bolivar and the petro. While the latter is supposedly correlated to a barrel of oil, there has been little evidence to demonstrate this, and little public appetite for adopting the cryptocurrency, despite the devaluation of the bolivar. The bolivar soberano officially replaced the bolivar fuerte on Aug. 20 of this year at a rate of 1 soberano to 100,000 fuerte, in a bid to stem the tide of hyperinflation. News.Bitcoin.com’s Venezuelan source has reported that two of the country’s other largest private banks, BBVA Provincial and BFC, have yet to emulate Banesco and Mercantil by denominating balances using the petro.

Demand for Bitcoin Remains Strong

Concerted efforts by the government to ensure adoption of the petro have included the Supreme Court ordering a compensation payment to be made using the cryptocurrency. Evidence suggests there is little desire among ordinary members of the public, however, to use the petro, which is essentially a clone of dash. Instead, data shows that Venezuelans are turning to decentralized cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin core. Localbitcoins trade volumes for BTC have reached record highs in recent weeks, with over 1,000 BTC a week being traded on the P2P marketplace in October.

Venezuelan Banks Start Using the Petro to Denominate Customer Balances

What are your thoughts on Venezuelan banks introducing the petro? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Coin.dance.


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Tags in this story
Bitcoin in Venezuela, Bolivar, Hyperinflation, N-Featured, national currency, Nicolas Maduro, OIL, Petro, South America, venezeula
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Kai Sedgwick

Kai's been playing with words for a living since 2009 and bought his first bitcoin at $12. It's long gone. He's previously written white papers for blockchain startups and is especially interested in P2P exchanges and DNMs.