The newest cryptocurrency is the invention of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. The “petro,” as the cryptocurrency is known, was launched this weekas a very creative Hail Mary by a struggling autocrat.
The website for the cryptocurrency claims that in its first issue, opened for trading on Feb. 20, it made available 100 million tokens, each selling for about $60, a figure that is close to the price of a barrel of oil. Each petro is supposedly backed by a barrel of oil, though analysts are not sure what this means in practice. Maduro values this issuance at $6 billion: $60 for each token for 100 million tokens.
The currency is one of many sold as tokens on the New Economy Movement platform, a technology that supports cryptocurrencies. The New Economy Movement blockchain confirmed on its Twitter account that it was the platform that the Venezuelan government had selected for the petro, while also adding that it does not make political endorsements.