Imagine buying your passport with bitcoin, ether or XRP. It would be hard, right? You’d have to figure out the exact percentage of the coins to account for cents and uneven numbers, and even then, there’d be no guarantees that everything was correct.
The fact is that cryptocurrency is not fully ready to be used for daily purchases, but in Venezuela, citizens are being forced to utilize the highly-controversial petro cryptocurrency to pay for their passport fees. In other words, if they’re looking to vacation or leave the country for any reason, they better get to know their crypto.
A Little History
The petro continues to be something of a phenomenon in the digital asset space. The currency was introduced in February of this year through an initial coin offering (ICO) to claims that it was backed by Venezuela’s oil reserves, though these claims have never been fortified or backed up.
In addition, reports regarding how much money was originally made through that ICO tend to vary depending on who’s talking. According to President Nicolas Maduro, the money made from petro sales in February are somewhere along the lines of $2 billion, though many analysts and financial experts agree this is a heavy exaggeration.
A Few More Nails in the Coffin
Furthermore, petro-trading has been banned in the United States by President Donald Trump after officials offered further skepticism of the currency’s properties. Recently, Maduro tied the petro to worker’s wages, ensuring that all Venezuelan workers would be paid in petro funds to battle the country’s ongoing problem of inflation. However, the currency is not sold on any major exchange, nor is any retail outlet known to accept petro-based payments, leading to questions regarding its legitimacy.
Venezuela’s economy has suffered greatly; there’s no denying that, and while it can be said that the petro probably began with good intentions, it hasn’t done what it was been designed to do and finding further ways to implement it and force it upon people is only going to lead to greater problems.
The Alleged Solutions Are Causing More Strain
As of November 1, all passport-related fees in Venezuela must be paid in petro funds, according to Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez. In addition, the cost of a passport in the country has skyrocketed to more than 7,200 bolivars (roughly $115.77 USD), leaving many people in the dust regarding how they can afford one.
The cost of the passport is equal to roughly two petro coins, while one garners the user an extension. The move is designed to halt the country’s migration crisis, which has seen over 2.5 million souls leaving Venezuela in just the last three years – right when Maduro came into power.
Stop Leaving the Country!
Maduro, on the other hand, disputes these claims, and says they’re figures generated simply to make him “look bad.” He insists that roughly 600,000 citizens or less have left the country since he began his term as president; he also states that about 90 percent of them are now regretting their decision.
Venezuela has also announced that it is enforcing a new migration police force that will oversee and monitor the country’s 72 separate ports of entry.
The Allegations Never Cease
Passport prices are now four times that of a standard worker’s minimum wage, and vice-president Rodriguez states:
“In the case of Venezuelans who are abroad, until the first day of November, the cost will be $200 for issuance and $100 for extensions.”
Ethereum’s core developer Joey Zhou also claims that the petro has plagiarized portions of Dash’s whitepaper, raising further questions regarding the petro’s financial power in a country where the national currency has ultimately dropped by 99 percent since the beginning of 2018.