According to an investigation report by RunRun.es, Venezuela intends to increase its use of bitcoin to pay for imports in order to circumvent economic sanctions imposed by the United States.
RunRun.es, founded by the Venezuelan investigative journalist Nelson Bucaranda, quoted anonymous sources from the country’s central bank as saying that “payments to companies from allied countries such as Iran and Turkey were made using Bitcoin.”
It is unclear what these imports consist of, but Turkey and Iran are currently providing food and fuel to the country in exchange for gold.
The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has promoted its alleged state-owned cryptocurrency, Petro, as a medium of exchange both internationally and domestically since the token was launched in 2018. But Petro’s weak application has forced the system to explore other digital currencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Maduro began publicly threatening to use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a circumvention tool in September, announcing that his administration would soon use all of the world’s cryptocurrencies, be it governmental, governmental, or private, for internal and external trade.
On October 8, the Venezuelan National Assembly passed an anti-ban law and granted additional enforcement powers to circumvent the country’s sanctions, including allowing the creation or use of cryptocurrencies as a monetary tool.
The Venezuelan government set up a digital asset production center, a Bitcoin mining depot, in November as the country increased its reliance on cryptocurrencies.
Last week, the Venezuelan government launched a cryptocurrency exchange backed by the National Cryptocurrency Authority to enable residents to exchange bolivars for bitcoins.
Iran has also passed legislation to use bitcoin to pay for imports to ease pressure on the country’s already fragile economy.