13 Jan 2020 · 1 min read

Venezuelan Petro-accepting Merchants Panic as Crypto Drive Hits Snag

The Venezuelan government’s attempts to kickstart its cryptocurrency-powered economy appears to have hit a series of wrinkles – with the central Bank of Venezuela suspending service on its Petro-accepting Point-of-Sale (PoS) devices.

Source: iStock/johan10

Per El Nacional, the central bank has indefinitely ceased Petro sales via its BioPago devices – which allow users to pay in the state-issued, oil-backed token at thousands of stores across the country using fingerprint-reading biodata technology.

A number of merchants have reported faults and payment failures after “hundreds of thousands” of Venezuelans were gifted with 0.5 Petro (around USD 30, per the Venezuelan government) over the Christmas period. (In comparison, the minimum wage in the country increased to c. USD 8 in October.)

However, the move has proven to be fraught with issues – with many citizens complaining that they were forced to queue for up to six hours at stores that accept the Petro to spend their funds.

The bank states that over 7,000 stores across the country have processed Petro payments using BioPago devices – but an unnamed number of these say they have encountered issues, and many stating they have not received payment from their Petro transactions.

A pro-crypto news outlet named the National Association of Cryptocurrencies has posted on Twitter stating that the Bank of Venezuela had confirmed that it would be reimbursing all merchants who had processed Petro payments using BioPago devices.

The news outlet has been right about a number of Bank of Venezuela-cryptocurrency related issues before in the past – and was the first to break the news of the opening of Petro counters at branch headquarters.

Regardless, yet more Petro-accepting merchants have taken to Twitter and other social media platforms – or complained directly to the central bank – stating that they are struggling to covert Petro tokens to fiat. Others have questioned the true economic worth of the token.

And per Diario La Region, a number of merchants have complained they were unable to access the Bank of Venezuela’s website after their payments failed – leading to panic for many store owners.