Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Venezuela launches digital currency

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2018 | 2:21 PM
In this October 2017 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gives a press conference at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. Cash-strapped Venezuela on Tuesday became the first country to launch its own version of bitcoin, a move Maduro celebrated as putting his country on the world's technological forefront. - AP Photo

Cash-strapped Venezuela has become the first country to launch its own version of online currency, a move President Nicolas Maduro celebrated as putting his country on the world’s technological forefront.

In its first hours on the market yesterday, President Maduro said the so-called petro racked in US$735 million worth in purchases, without providing details.

The petro is backed by Venezuela’s crude oil reserves, the largest in the world. 

However, the digital currency hit the market as the socialist country sinks deeper into an economic crisis marked by soaring inflation and food shortages that put residents in lines for hours to buy common products.