Venezuela’s Doomed Petro Cryptocurrency: End of the Road on Jan. 15 After Six Turbulent Years

Venezuela’s Doomed Petro Cryptocurrency: End of the Road on Jan. 15 After Six Turbulent Years

Venezuela’s Petro cryptocurrency, set to cease operations on January 15 after six years. Launched as a countermeasure to U.S. sanctions, the Petro struggled with acceptance both domestically and internationally, ultimately failing amidst widespread scandal and operational challenges.

Venezuela’s Petro will stop working

Venezuela‘s government-made cryptocurrency, the Petro (oil-tied), will stop working on January 15, 2024. 

The Petro started in 2018 to help Venezuela avoid U.S. sanctions, but it wasn’t used much.

The government’s Petro website ( announced it’s closing, but that website isn’t working now. The Petro was only traded on a special part of the Venezuelan Patria website, which needs a password to get in.

The Petro was made because Venezuela’s regular money, the bolivar, lost a lot of value due to U.S. sanctions. Bitcoin was already popular in Venezuela when the Petro came out. President Nicolas Maduro wanted the Petro, but the parliament didn’t agree.

The Petro was fully working by 2020, but other countries didn’t use it, even though Maduro tried to promote it to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America country members. 

It was also not widely used in Venezuela. We should also note that Pedro was never made legal tender, so many didn’t see it as official money. Venezuela’s biggest bank didn’t take it unless forced by a presidential order.

The National Superintendency of Crypto Assets oversees Pedro and its ties to drug trafficking 

In June 2020, U.S. authorities offered a $5 million reward for capturing Joselit Ramirez Camacho, who was in charge of the National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and, inherently, of the Petro. 

Camacho is accused of being involved in drug trafficking.

They say he’s closely connected to suspected drug lords, including former vice president Tareck El Aissami.

Ramirez’s bounty is the lowest among the people the U.S. is after in this case. The U.S. is offering $15 million for Maduro and $10 million for others, including El Aissami.

Ramirez Camacho was arrested in Venezuela in March 2023 for financial issues in the oil industry. The agency he led was closed for changes and won’t reopen until March 2024. This led to the shutdown of some cryptocurrency exchanges and mining in Venezuela.

The Petro was different from a central bank digital currency, which is a type of official digital money. Venezuela’s Central Bank talked about making one in 2021, but it never happened.

Venezuela’s CBDC

In October 2021, the Central Bank of Venezuela announced that it will introduce a digital version of its currency, the bolivar, and will also remove six zeros from it because of high inflation. 

This digital bolivar was to be used in the economy, and there will be a new 1-bolivar coin and banknotes from 5 to 100 bolivars.

The Central Bank also wanted to introduce a text message-based system for easy payments and transfers with this digital currency. They say this big change won’t affect the bolivar’s value; it’s just to make using the currency easier. The bank stated, “The bolivar’s value won’t change; we’re just simplifying it.”

President Nicolás Maduro first mentioned a digital bolivar in February 2021. He was promoting this project as part of modernizing and fixing the economy. 

Removing zeros from the bolivar, Venezuela’s actual legal tender is a common tactic of Maduro’s government. However, this doesn’t solve the issue of the economy. 

By 2020, the yearly inflation rate was about 2,300%.

However, economists criticized this plan and pointed out that just changing the currency’s look doesn’t fix the real problems causing its loss of value. 

Venezuela has been struggling with a long economic crisis, worsened by U.S. sanctions and very high inflation. Maduro’s solution to avoid these sanctions was to create digital currencies.

Fiat vs Cryptocurrency: Why Crypto will take over

Fiat vs Cryptocurrency: Why Crypto will take over

The cryptocurrency vs fiat debate is not only supported by cryptocurrency enthusiasts, but also by its critics. We all know there are some serious issues with fiat money.

Without a doubt, cash should be less and less by governments, as it’s fueling the black markets from all over the world. Many economists stated that cash usually facilitate the underground economies and it’s not helping the legal ones.

Cash also leads to violent crimes, drugs dealing and illegal immigration. For example, the Swedish government significantly reduced bank robbery by having less cash in circulation.

Many voiced that Bitcoin is used for online crimes, but when it comes to criminals, most prefer real cash. Ironic, isn’t it?

Will Fiat money disappear?

While some economists don’t like cryptocurrencies, they also don’t like the use of fiat currency of today. Some believe that governments will cease to use cash and impose their own national digital currencies. Paper money is outdated and its usage is full of flaws.

History tells private companies develops new technologies, which the governments eventually regulate, and there is no reason to believe that digital currency will have a different fate.

Former International Monetary Fund (IMF) Chief Economist Kenneth S. Rogoff, author of the book; The Curse of Cash, predicted that governments will take over cryptocurrency. Even paper money was first issued by banks and later adopted by governments, as it was a better payment technology.

What will happen if Fiat money disappears?

Does anyone remember who the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, declared in 2016 that 86% of the circulating cash is worthless on television?

On November 8, 2016, India’s prime minister stated on television that their 2 largest bills, the 500 and 1000 rupees notes, were worthless and his action created a state of cash shortage and panic.

Many Indians were waiting long hours in lines to withdraw cash from banks and ATMs. Businesses were required to enforce a barter system and millions of people had to live without cash for the next 50 days.

Although the reasons behind this massive action were to reduce illegal transactions and to boost the financial sector, it also showed to the world why fiat money is an obsolete technology. Cash can instantly disappear or be declared worthless by a government. The same happens when you store your cash money in your house and you get robbed or a fire destroys your house.

Hyperinflation, a major problem of Fiat money

Because the government has total control over how many new bills are printed and released in circulation, fiat money faces inflation, which is a major problem.

By printing more fiat money, the government devalues the money already in circulation and inflation occurs. In contrast, inflation doesn’t happen with cryptocurrency, because crypto is issued in a limited number. Bitcoin, for instance, has a total amount of 21 million.

Hyperinflation is accelerating inflation, and what happens in Venezuela is such an example. The prices in Venezuela have risen by 12,875% during 2017 and by 85% during December 2017. The economist Steve Hanke from Johns Hopkins University, stated that prices are doubling every 52 days in Venezuela.

This makes Venezuela have the worst care of hyperinflation in history.

According to Wikipedia, Venezuela has overpassed any historical benchmark for inflation and hyperinflation.

In 2014, the inflation rate reached 69%, the highest in the world. In 2015, the inflation rate was 181%, again the highest in the world and the highest in the country’s history at the time. The rate reached 800% in 2016, over 4,000% in 2017, and 1,698,488% in 2018, with Venezuela spiraling into hyperinflation. While the Venezuelan government “has essentially stopped” producing official inflation estimates as of early 2018, inflation economist Steve Hanke estimated the rate at that time to be 5,220%. In April 2019, the International Monetary Fund estimated that inflation would reach 10,000,000% by the end of 2019. The Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) officially estimates that the inflation rate increased to 53,798,500% between 2016 and April 2019.

This is hyperinflation and it affects the lives of millions of people.

Cryptocurrency vs. Hyperinflation

In 2017, Venezuelans started mining cryptocurrency, using the cheap electricity they had. It is estimated that an individual could make around $500 per month, mining Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is an alternative because it couldn’t be stolen and they can use it to buy products from online shops. Using Bitcoin or Ethereum, one can buy Visa or Mastercard gift cards, which can then be used on Amazon.

This led to a higher price of Bitcoin in Venezuela. Corrupt police are confiscating mining rigs to use them themselves. That’s the only way they can feed their families.

Venezuela Demonstrates why Cryptocurrency will Supplant Fiat Currencies

But most people, who do not mine or own cryptocurrency, can only exchange eggs for other goods and are at the mercy of their president. The Venezuelan Bolivar is worthless outside Venezuela.

And this proves that cryptocurrency can help anyone, to by-pass their government and their restrictive rules and perform transactions cross-border. Such actions enables the average individual with spending power.

No matter what governments do, the problems with fiat currency remain. Although some states try to ban it, it is impossible to totally dismiss it, due to cryptocurrency’s decentralized nature. That’s why many believe that cryptocurrency is the future.

Bitcoin sold at a premium price in Venezuela

Bitcoin sold at a premium price in Venezuela

The reality is that Venezuela is poor now but Bitcoin sold at a premium price in Venezuela. WHY?

The prices for cryptocurrencies vary for different nations. The ‘advertised’ price is often an average of all the prices available on exchanges. At the moment, the demand for Bitcoin in Venezuela seems to be increasing significantly, and this can push the price of one BTC into a five-digit number.

At the moment, most people from all over the world know that the financial situation in Venezuela isn’t at its best. Hyperinflation has plagued the nation for years, and things continue to get even worse. There’s little to nothing the authorities and central bank can do in order to block the fiscal onslaught.

What are the main issues in Venezuela?

Firstly, president Maduro introduced a nationwide cryptocurrency some time ago. Since day one, there were lots of uncomfortable questions concerning this specific venture. Because Venezuela doesn’t have any more oil reserves to back up the Petro, there isn’t any actual use or need for this federal cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin sold at a premium price in Venezuela

Prices for services and products are still skyrocketing virtually daily while the national fiat currency devalues even farther. For all, the only solution would be to attempt to enhance their financial resources. Bitcoin is now of fantastic interest in the nation, and that trend isn’t slowing down.

In a state where digital and physical money is losing worth frequently, the requirement for other assets will become more evident. Venezuela is good example in this situation and Bitcoin is one such asset. The nation has witnessed a lot of spikes of BTC trading volume via peer-reviewed platforms like LocalBitcoins.

What’s even more notable is that the price people are prepared to pay for 1 Bitcoin.

Given the current international price of $7,560, an individual from Venezuela would be expected to pay a premium price in Venezuela.  This isn’t something most are willing to believe, but when it comes to Venezuela, the difference between this international price and the one available locally can be steep.

To understand the difference, consider the price of 1 BTC in Venezuela, which is currently near $9,500. That’s around a $2,000 extra fee to just escape the Venezuelan bolivar. It is not the first time that prices in Venezuela spike, as Venezuela has consistently had greater prices for BTC.

Why is Bitcoin sold at a premium price in Venezuela?

At the current rate of inflation that Venezuela is suffering from, this digital currency can’t be bought via a bank account, or card, because of the financial situation. The desire to escape inflation and buy something which resided outside of this system builds up the demand for Bitcoin. And when the acquisition is impeded by the very system, then is when the scarcity appears.

Venezuela is facing hard times, and its people are willing to put their last money of anything else than the Venezuelan pesos. Foreign fiat currencies such as the US dollar is in the same situation as Bitcoin: Hard to get and sold at a premium price.

For the rest of the world, these prices don’t apply, and we will have to wait for a bigger demand from all over the world the get that price up again.