On 29 October 2018, the Venezuelan government announced that the Petro could be purchased by the public, pushing up the date of the sale by about a week due to the eagerness of President Nicolas Maduro. People can buy it with fiat currencies as well as major cryptocurrencies. However, buyers are receiving paper certificates that show their ownership, rather than actual cryptocurrency. There continues to be no evidence that the Venezuelan state cryptocurrency really exists.
Venezuelan government officials and at least one Chinese delegate made a public show of buying the Petro. They were given certificates, which include the full spectrum of identifying info such as name, signature, and fingerprints. This is apparently required to buy it, which does not make sense since it was supposed to be designed to be an anonymous crypto like Dash. Further, the officials and delegate proudly had pictures taken with their certificates, proving that the certificates do not include a private key.
There is a block explorer on the official Petro website and it is barely moving. The block time is 1 minute according to their white paper but there are only 316 blocks, according to the website. None of the block details or transaction information is viewable.
The combination of the misleading block explorer and paper certificates being issued to buyers suggests that Venezuela is collecting fiat and crypto in exchange for Petro but giving nothing in return besides a paper certificate. Essentially, at this point, the Petro might have been released as a fiat currency that can be printed from a standard computer printer and, therefore, can be more easily counterfeited than any other fiat currency in the world.
The next phase according to Venezuela is Petro savings, where people can save their money with the Venezuelan government. Petro Pay will also be launched alongside the savings plan. For all real cryptocurrencies, a pay feature is not needed, since the wallet automatically includes sending and receiving features. The fact that people have to go to the government to pay with Petro, instead of sending it themselves, might be further evidence that it does not exist.
Despite all of this contrary evidence, the Venezuelan government said: “This Monday the sale of the Petro cryptocurrency is successfully launched for all Venezuelans and those who want to make financial transactions digitally through this mechanism.”
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