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Letters From Venezuela: World’s First State-Backed Crypto Petro Airdrop & Govt Exchange Begins

TL;DR: Letters from Venezuela is an exclusive CoinSpice series, an inside look from a reporter on the ground, documenting the South American nation’s last stand among sanctions, political unrest, international condemnation and concern, economic collapse, and the specter of cryptocurrency possibly demonstrating its main use case. In this installment, the Venezuelan state-backed cryptocurrency petro airdrop commences, aiming to give every state worker and pensioner access, and a government exchange is launched to facilitate trading — both world firsts.

Petro Being Airdropped to Pensioners and State Workers

As it was announced earlier this month by the Venezuelan government, Petro, the official cryptocurrency of the country backed by oil and natural resources, is being airdropped to the totality of pensioners and state workers as a Christmas gift. This ranks among the biggest airdrops in cryptocurrency history with more than 8 million people on the receiving end. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro offered to give every worker half of a petro, roughly $30 — a significant sum in a country where the minimum wage is $5 a day.

Petro Airdrop

The Motherland Platform (Plataforma Patria), the centralized system that will allow Venezuelans to collect, was closed for three days to update its capacity for the airdrop, making adaptations to handle the load. The petro airdrop will be managed in several phases, with an equal number of participants given coins from December 19 to December 29.

Something similar was attempted before by the government, but the infrastructure to use and interact with petro just wasn’t, and most ignored the idea. This time, the government has made certain arrangements to try and make the process easier, which includes banking services and point-of-sale systems, and converting the Motherland Platform into a kind of cryptocurrency exchange.

Motherland Platform to Act as Cryptocurrency Exchange

The Motherland Platform will indeed act as a cryptocurrency exchange for petro airdrop holders to sell or use their cryptocurrencies to buy goods or pay for services. To regulate this usage, Joselit Ramirez, Superintendent of SUNACRIP, the cryptocurrency watchdog, published the first electronic exchange specifications, describing fees and usage for the platform.

Users of the system will be able to sell and purchase their cryptocurrencies, paying fees of 2% when buying or selling cryptocurrencies and 4% when using these cryptocurrencies as payment. For the latter use, banking institutions are being urged to adapt their current infrastructure to allow petro payments.

However, there is still confusion among the population, which has expressed through social networks their lack of expertise using the tech platform to exchange petro into the national currency, the bolivar. Also, as presented now, the national exchange does not have a public order book, so there is no way to see who is buying or selling and at how much in real-time. The system currently exchanges petros for bolivares in rounds, and if the matching engine pairs two uneven prices, the rest goes to the exchange.

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