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Venezuela to launch oil-backed ‘Petro’ cryptocurrency amid deep economic crisis

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has revealed plans to launch an oil-backed cryptocurrency as the country is grappling with a deep economic crisis.

In a televised broadcast as reported by Reuters, Maduro announced “Petro” – the country’s first attempt at cryptocurrencies in the wake of the U.S.-led financial sanctions.

“Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency,” backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves, Maduro said, adding that the petro would help Venezuela “advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade.”

Experts are taking this announcement with a pinch of salt as opposition leaders said that the initiative is subject to congressional approval.

The country is looking towards cryptocurrencies at a time when the national currency in on a downward spiral. Rising prices and shortage of basic necessities like food and medicines have also led to anti-Maduro protests in the country.

In times of such economic turmoil, reports have suggested that the Venezuelan bitcoin community has been thriving as the people looked for alternative means to obtain dollars and making online payments. Bitcoin is currently trading around all-time high levels of over $11500 levels at the time of writing.

In the past, countries, including Tunisia and Senegal have announced plans to adopt blockchain-based national digital currency.

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