The Venezuelan government recently introduced a state-backed digital coin, called Petro. The country has been facing economic downturn and the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, introduced the oil-backed digital coin to fight the dying economy. Back in the summer of 2018, the situation in Venezuela was so critical that people had to line with days for food and water supplies.
Now, only several months after the introduction of the Petro, Venezuelan pensioners have their pensions converted to the digital coin without their consent. According to the Caracas Chronicles, pensioners received their funds in their accounts, but all were converted to the Petro.
Venezuelan pensioners receive an automatic message when their bonuses are debited in their accounts. On December 7th, however, they received the following two messages:
MOTHERLAND WALLET: CREDIT for an amount of Bs.S. 1,800.00 for the concept of Elderly Love Pensions (Third month Christmas bonus 2018) on 12/07/2018
MOTHERLAND WALLET: DEBIT for an amount of Bs.S. 1,800.00 for the concept of Savings in Petro on 12/07/2018
The first one is a regular credit message. The second one, however, informs pensioners that their funds have been converted to the petro.
With the hyperinflation and economic tensions in the country, Venezuelan pensioners have become increasingly more dependent on these bonuses. These bonuses are handed by the Venezuelan government through the carnet de la patria system.
In the online system they use, pensioners can view their funds, messages and withdraw their money in a nearby bank. However, the system now has the message “Savings Plan” that allows people to convert Venezuelan bolivars into Petros, to protect themselves from the rising inflation.
The fact that pensioners received their funds in Petros was rather shocking to some. There was a lot of confusion as to how the funds can be withdrawn and if they could be converted to bolivars.