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The Venezuelan government has been handing out bonuses to pensioners for some time now, and these bonuses have become an essential part of life for pensioners. 2018 has been a year of hyperinflation that has left many elderly people dependent on these bonuses to survive.
Pensioners would receive a message from the government when they are eligible for the bonus. They then go to patria.org.ve to transfer the money into their bank account. Once the money is in the bank account, they travel down to their local bank to withdraw the money. On the website, there is now a function to exchange bolivars into Petros, and put them in a “Savings Plan.” Which sounds like a great additional option, right? Well, the Venezuelan government decided they’d just skip the step where people could choose, and automatically converted the bonuses into Petros.
There is an option to convert the Petros back into bolivars and send them to a bank account, rather than a Petros wallet; however, the process for doing this is not straightforward. What is even more surprising about this, is that although Petros have been launched several times, they are not yet available to use. The whole incident is confusing.
With hyperinflation and the economy facing a volatile period in Venezuela, looking to cryptocurrency may seem like a forward-thinking solution. The project to bring Petros into the mainstream has a lot of potential and clearly shows the Venezuelan government’s support for the cryptocurrency.
However, forcing Petros onto the public seems terribly short-sighted. Firstly, people don’t tend to take lightly to being forced into a new way of doing things by the government. Secondly, this action is affecting pensioners. Pensioners in Venezuela are facing an uncertain period, and many rely on these bonuses to survive, by making their access to the bonuses wrought with confusion, it may cause unnecessary distress. It is also fair to say the pensioners, in general, aren’t known for being tech-savvy, which is why this seems especially unfair, along with making the conversion back to bolivars hidden.
Many people in Venezuela are angry about the change and will continue to criticize in the coming days and weeks. It is too soon to say whether the government will listen to these concerns.