Venezuelans Must Now Pay Passport Fees with the Government’s Petro Cryptocurrency

Starting next week, Venezuelans will have to pay their passport fees with the petro, the controversial state-supported cryptocurrency that is allegedly backed by oil. This was announced in a press conference on Friday, Oct. 5, by the country’s vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, ahead of the coin’s official launch in November. This follows a similar press release by President Nicolas Maduro, who stated that oil purchases will now be made with petros (PTR).

According to Rodriguez, new passports will cost two petros, while extensions can be purchased half that. Bloomberg reports that the new registration price is four times the monthly minimum wage (around 7,200 bolivars), which takes it out of the hands of the average Venezuelan. The enforcement of the new rules will make it even more difficult for Venezuelans to travel out of the country. For Venezuelans living abroad, the cost for new issuance will be $200 while extensions will be $100.

Venezuela has been battling with hyperinflation since 2014, which saw its national currency — the bolivar — depreciate rapidly in value. Needing a currency to fill the void created by the bolivar, some Venezuelans switched to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and later, dash, which became arguably more reliable as a store of value and medium of exchange, to combat the side effects of the rampant inflation and the nosediving bolivar.

Seeing the remarkable ascendancy that cryptocurrencies were enjoying, especially dash, the Venezuelan government decided to issue an oil-backed cryptocurrency, the petro, in Dec. 2017.

While the creation of the state-backed cryptocurrency has created a more favorable environment for non-centralized tokens to flourish in the country, it has also come with all forms of oppositions and controversies.

In an earlier announcement last week, the Venezuelan President had claimed that petro would be listed on the six major crypto exchanges for trading, but this hasn’t stopped it from courting controversy. Following the announcement, ethereum core developer Joey Zhou shared a tweet in which he called the state-owned cryptocurrency a “blatant dash clone,” at least according to its whitepaper.

Adoption for dash has, however, been on the increase, so much that Ryan Taylor, CEO of Dash Core Group, called the country the second largest market for dash.