Venezuela’s central bank is getting ready to pull the trigger on cryptocurrency payments.
President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised press conference that the government will be using cryptos as a “method for free national and international payments.”
“The finance minister and Venezuela’s central bank have new instruments which we will activate very soon so that everyone can do banking transactions, as well as national and international payments through the central bank’s accounts,” Maduro said, according to Bloomberg. “Venezuela is working within the cryptocurrency world.”
Sources have told Bloomberg that the Bank of Venezuela has been performing internal tests to make sure it can hold cryptos in its reserves, at the request of state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, which wants to transfer bitcoin and ethereum to the central bank and be able to pay the oil company’s suppliers with the digital currencies.
“The regime’s use of cryptocurrency shows desperation,” the opposition’s Juan Guaido said in an earlier press conference. “To resort to that kind of subterfuge emphasizes the economic crisis the regime is going through.”
Maduro is turning to crypto in an attempt to get around U.S. sanctions, which have largely isolated the troubled nation from the global financial system, while also damaging financing. As a result, the country has tried to find ways to bypass the sanctions, including the creation of its own cryptocurrency, the Petro. And Maduro even ordered the Bank of Venezuela to allow customers to access the digital currency.
“[U.S. President] Donald Trump and his sanctions are blocking Venezuela from carrying out transaction in any of the world’s banks,” Maduro said. “There’s other formulas to pay, and it’s what we’re using because our payment system works perfectly in China and Russia.”
In July, it was reported that Venezuela was looking into using a Russian-operated international payments messaging system in an effort to get around the sanctions.