If the Venezuelan crypto ecosystem fails to expand, it won't be for lack of trying.
Criptolago, a state-sanctioned cryptocurrency exchange, yesterday announced the launch of a new crypto smart card that will allow its users to spend their cryptocurrencies in stores that operate a compatible point-of-sale system.
The new crypto debit card is the result of a partnership between the Criptolago exchange and the "investment cryptobank" Glufco. The card will support Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash, Venezuela’s state-backed crypto, the petro, and Glufco's native token, according to the company’s announcement.
This new crypto point-of-sale proposal comes just weeks after PundiX announced a partnership with Venezuela’s largest retail chain, Traki, to install crypto point-of-sale terminals in all of its locations. The system would allow Traki customers to complete purchases with physical crypto cards in a matter of seconds.
Now, the state-sanctioned Criptolago is positioning itself as a direct competitor to PundiX in the region.
For Glufco, the devices are not a point of sale per se, as they do not use fiat currency. Instead, the company refers to them as Cryptoasset Transfer Devices (CTD). The card linked to the customer's wallet confirms a transaction to the merchant's wallet associated with the CTD.
Criptolago enters the picture as a platform that will allow the conversion of cryptocurrencies to fiat in a fast and secure way, especially considering the fact that it supports the use of Venezuelan bolivars.
Each card costs 0.02 petros, which is about 25,000 bolivars, or $1.30 USD (today, anyway). The price is comparable to the PundiX Xpass (the physical card that is compatible with PundiX point-of-sale devices), which costs 24,000 bolivars.
According to Criptolago, the card can now be used “anywhere in the country,” though so far the company has not shared any data on the number of cards currently available. Glufco has similarly not shared additional details about the initiative, despite being responsible for distributing the point-of-sale devices.
Nevertheless, the news is well timed. Just days ago, the Venezuelan government confirmed reports that it plans to hold crypto such as Bitcoin and Ethereum as part of international reserves, and it’s now evaluating the possibility of linking these digital currencies to its domestic banking infrastructure.
In other words, it’s a good time to be a crypto merchant in Venezuela—and, perhaps, especially one with the state’s blessing.