The leftist Caracas government put 38.4-million units of the world's first state-backed digital currency, the petro, on private pre-sale from the early hours.
Venezuela's cryptocurrency superintendent, Carlos Vargas, said the token, which is based on the Ethereum network, is being bought by investors in Qatar, Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries, as well as European nations and the U.S.
The petro is different from almost all other cryptocurrencies in that it has the enthusiastic support of the state; Russian Federation reportedly also has considered creating its own cryptocurrency to skirt global sanctions.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro first announced the controversial digital token late a year ago as a solution to the country's economic woes, however the US Treasury has warned potential investors that buying the petro could violate sanctions that prohibit the purchase of Venezuelan debt, which could dent investor sentiment. The short answer is: "It simply can't". Opposition leaders have said the sale constitutes an illegal debt issuance that circumvents Venezuela's majority-opposition legislature, and the U.S. Treasury Department has warned it may violate sanctions levied previous year.
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Launching the token, President Maduro said "Petro is born and we are going to have a total success for the welfare of Venezuela".
Venezuela's official currency, the bolívar fuerte, is in freefall.
Mr. Maduro has touted the petro as fulfilling the late Hugo Chavez's dream of upending global capitalism away from the dominance of the USA dollar and Wall Street.
The use of computers for bitcoin mining has also taken off, spurred by some of the world's cheapest electricity rates and widespread desperation prompted by a recession deeper than the U.S. Great Depression.
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Cryptocurrencies by design are decentralised financial systems, so one created by a government runs contrary to that spirit and creates an opportunity for manipulation, said Mr. Leidenz.
Venezuela's opposition won control of the National Assembly in a 2015 landslide vote that was their biggest electoral victory in almost two decades of socialist government.
"You can not stop hyperinflation by creating a new currency and doing nothing else", Leidenz said.
The cryptocurrency will be stored in a virtual wallet users can acquire after registering online. It will go on sale to the public in the coming month.
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Announced in December 2017, the petro is meant to supplement Venezuela's bolivar fuerte (VEF) currency and help overcome U.S. sanctions. One document highlights the use of Ethereum network while another document which is now being referred to as the buyer's guide shows the use of NEM blockchain system.