Following last week’s official release Venezuela’s state-backed cryptocurrency, the Petro, the government has announced the creation of a cryptocurrency training center. The center, located at Granja Laboratorio Petro School in Caracas, will teach citizens “how to buy, sell and mine cryptocurrencies,” free of charge.
According to Carmen Salvador, a Venezuelan teacher of cryptocurrency trading:
“What we hope to do with this, primarily, is to make knowledge accessible like any new methodology or technology....We've designed this plan with a completely free training and in any international market a trading course cost[s] more than $500 to $800. Many of our young people here find it impossible to have this amount of resources, [but] the Venezuelan state is guaranteeing that all can participate."
About the Petro
The Petro is the first official, state-issued cryptocurrency in the world. The currency is issued by the Venezuelan government and is supposedly backed by the nation’s oil reserves. The nature of this backing has attracted some skepticism, given that President Maduro has seen fit to create an endless amount of the nation’s fiat currency, the Bolivar, out of thin air. This policy has resulted in rampant hyperinflation, reducing the value of the nation’s currency to near-zero.
Maduro openly admits that the new currency is a way for the state to avoid international sanctions. In fact, the US government has previously said that any American investing in the Petro would potentially be subject to legal consequences for violating sanctions against Venezuela. In fact, Venezuela’s own legislature, led by Maduro’s opposition, decry the Petro as illegal.
It still helps
Despite the controversy surrounding the Petro, its very existence would seem to bolster the case for digital currency in general. First, the fact that a nation-state has given cryptocurrency its imprimatur is huge. Other countries, such as Iran, are already talking about following suit. Secondly, Venezuela is encouraged to educate its citizenry about the benefits and use of cryptocurrency. This is something that will benefit all digital currencies, not just the Petro.