Maduro claims the Venezuela Petro cryptocurrency raised $5 billion
If it's true, that would make it the most successful ICO in history by a very large margin.
The Petro was the world's first national cryptocurrency, made available in pre-sale through an ICO. Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro previously said that it raised $735 million in its first day, and has now declared that the ICO ended up reaching over $5 billion, TelSur reports.
In a meeting with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Maduro said the funds will be used "to buy everything our country needs, it is part of the economic solution".
If true, it would make the Petro the most successful ICO in history by a very large margin. But to date, there's no evidence other than Maduro's word that it has raised any money at all, and the entire launch has been shrouded in controversy. The Petro has been panned as a scam by Venezuela's opposition party and it was generally a very disorganised ICO of the kind that would probably put speculators off any other project.
Regardless of how much the Petro has raised, it looks like no buyers have received their tokens yet. The NEM address that's believed to be holding the funds is still showing no movement.
The Petro is ostensibly backed by Venezuela's oil reserves but it's still not clear how exactly this works. Almost immediately after the Petro ICO got underway, Maduro also announced another new cryptocurrency in the form of the Petro Gold, backed by gold.
Carlos Vargas, Venezuela's cryptocurrency superintendent, has said that over 83,000 individuals from 127 countries participated in the sale.
The Petro sale has attracted a lot of attention to date, with the interest even spilling over to unrelated coins, such as the deceased PetroDollar cryptocurrency that was unintentionally briefly revived by a surge of money.
One among many national cryptocurrencies
Venezuela has positioned the Petro as a tool for helping bypass US sanctions on the country, and many other countries that are wrestling with the results of economic lockdowns are looking in the same direction, including Iran and Turkey, while North Korea has also been getting deeply involved in existing cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Monero.
Elsewhere, Russia has proposed a multi-national BRICS cryptocurrency, and the Marshall Islands has become the first country in the world to create its own legal tender cryptocurrency.
The Petro might have been the first coin on the block, but it's facing a lot of internal opposition, some very unusual circumstances and a lot of doubt. In the future, it might be just one national government-issued cryptocurrency among many, or it might never really come into existence at all.
Until the Petros are transferred out of the wallet and to their buyers, and until an independent audit confirms the amount of money raised it's probably too early to say with any certainty what exactly is going on with the Petro, or how successful the token sale was.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VEN, XLM, SALT, BTC, XRB