Venezuela will open a youth bank funded by the government’s state-backed petro cryptocurrency, the country’s president said on Thursday.
Nicolas Maduro announced the initiative during a youth rally held in the state of Aragua, and regional news outlet Telesur reports that he committed to funding the project with 20 million units of its recently-launched petro currency, which he says are collectively worth $1.2 billion.
Maduro provided few other details about the youth bank, other than that it will support “productive initiatives” for younger Venezuelans.
As CCN reported, Venezuela launched the petro in February through a much-derided initial coin offering (ICO). Maduro claimed that the token — which runs on the NEM blockchain and is allegedly backed by barrels of oil — raised more than $5 billion during the first month of its token sale, though the prevailing sentiment among analysts is that this claim is patently false.
Nevertheless, the government continues to tout the petro as a tool to evade US economic sanctions, which prompted US President Donald Trump to sign an executive order barring US citizens and residents from investing in or trading the token.
The country’s opposition-controlled legislature has also criticized the cryptocurrency, alleging that the government created it to distract from the country’s economic collapse.
Last week, Venezuela offered India a 30 percent discount on crude oil purchases if it pays for the transactions using the petro, and it has also pressured state-run businesses in Venezuela to accept the token as payment.
Venezuela further claims that the petro will replace the hyperinflated bolivar as its official currency by 2020 and that it will soon have a sister cryptocurrency, the petro gold.
Notably, Maduro said elsewhere during his speech on Thursday that local universities should establish cryptocurrency mining farms to help strengthen the Venezuelan economy, which has seen prices rise by 18,000 percent in two months.
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