Venezuela has begun the process of introducing a new digital currency. It's eventually meant to give the highly indebted Latin American nation greater financial leeway and reduce its dependence on capital markets.
The government in Caracas confirmed Tuesday that Venezuela had started a pre-sale of 38.4 million Petro digital units which will be carried out from February 20 to March 19.
The cryptocurrency token's initial price was set at $60 (€48.6) per unit, reflecting the price of a barrel of Venezuelan oil in mid-January.
Vice President Tareck El Aissami said in a statement Tuesday that the Petro would "create trust and investor confidence on the national and international markets."
On March 20, another 44 million units of the digital currency would be circulated, authorities explained, with the per-unit price set to fluctuate based on oil market developments.
President Nicolas Maduro had announced in early December that Venezuela, which is under sanctions from the US and the EU, was creating the Petro currency.
The Latin American nation has the world's largest proven oil reserves, but has been facing a crippling economic crisis triggered mainly by the fall in crude oil prices and a drop in oil production which accounts for about 96 percent of the country's exports.
Venezuela is struggling to restructure its external debt, estimated at around $150 billion by some experts.
hg/tr (AFP, Reuters)