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Venezuela’s Maduro Says He Will Airdrop Half a Petro Each to Public Employees, Retirees

Venezuelans including public sector workers, retirees and the military are set to receive a petro token handout this Christmas, so long as they register for the state’s crypto payments platform.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Friday that those groups would be airdropped 0.5 petro (said to be worth $30) as a holiday bonus this week, according to local news source El Universal.

To be eligible, citizens will first have to sign up to PetroApp, the official government crypto wallet that launched back in May. The only platform that supports the oil-backed cryptocurrency, PetroApp is designed to allow users to purchase goods and services from their phones, as well as for standard transfers.

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PetroApp can also be used to exchange other cryptocurrencies, too, meaning users may well use the app to swap their airdropped petro for the currently supported bitcoin, litecoin and dash.

Maduro said that the airdrop will be another opportunity to encourage Venezuelans to switch to the petro, which has been available to the public since October 2018. Considering the national minimum wage is less than $10 a month, eligible citizens will be strongly incentivized to register for the app.

During the same announcement, the president also said more than 500,000 petros would be paid out from the state’s own supply to support town and local governments across the country.

This is the latest in a series of efforts to push nationwide adoption. In September, Maduro ordered future funding for a social housing initiative to be paid out in petros. Back in the summer, he requested the Bank of Venezuela (BoV), one of the country’s largest banks, to make the token available to its customers. Despite a limited number of use-cases, the government has reportedly been paying state pensions in petro for the past year.

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Although the petro has received strong government support and been in circulation for more than a year, it hasn’t found much organic growth across the Venezuelan economy. There were only 400 businesses that accepted petro payments as of last month, according to a government press release. In the same release, Maduro ordered businesses to begin integrating the petro so it can be as widely accepted as the nation’s fiat currency, the sovereign bolivar.

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