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Venezuela's oil-backed cryptocurrency raised $735 million in one day, president claims

  • Nicolas Maduro said on Twitter that Venezuela's petro token raised more than 4.777 billion Chinese yuan, or $735 million.
  • Each unit of the petro is pegged to the price of one barrel of Venezuelan oil, according to Caracas.
  • A number of skeptics have raised concern about the country's cryptocurrency ambitions.
Federico Parra | AFP | Getty Images

Venezuela's oil-backed "petro" cryptocurrency raised $735 million in the first day of its pre-sale Tuesday, President Nicolas Maduro has claimed.

The Venezuelan president said on Twitter that the petro token raised more than 4.777 billion Chinese yuan, or $735 million, and that the state-backed virtual currency "reaffirms our economic sovereignty."

Caracas said that each unit of the petro is pegged to the price of one barrel of Venezuelan oil. The country's cryptocurrency regulator has said it hopes the petro will draw investment from Qatar, Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries, as well as from European nations and the U.S.

But a number of skeptics have raised concern about the country's cryptocurrency ambitions, with some citing Venezuela's debt problems and the possibility of asset manipulation as cause for doubt.

Venezuela is currently facing hyperinflation, the collapse of its currency, the bolivar, and shortages in food and other basic necessities due to price controls.

Maduro has said that the petro will serve as a means for Venezuela to circumvent Western sanctions. Both the European Union and the United States have imposed economic sanctions on Caracas over their opposition to its autocratic government.