Unable to process credit card payments, Venezuela appears to be testing Bitcoin as a viable payment option for passports and other state documents
The Venezuelan government appears to be testing its ability to accept Bitcoin as payment for issuing passports and other official documents for citizens residing outside the country. Although Nicolas Maduro’s government has not issued an official statement on the matter, the option to pay in Bitcoin may be a response to the recent difficulties that Venezuela has experienced in processing cross-border payments.
This has been especially challenging for any official state company due to the unilateral economic sanctions that the US government has imposed on Venezuela.
Rumors about BTC’s payment option for passports surfaced late last night, mostly on Reddit. User iguano80 shared a photo on the subreddit r / Bitcoin of the SAIME passport payment processing service, which displayed Bitcoin as a payment option. Credit card payment is temporarily suspended due to the effects of the sanctions.
It’s annoying, but that’s what it is. 😅😎 https://t.co/SaoxEZCS4B
– Lovera 😎 ⚡₿ (@BTClovera) June 24, 2020
Today, however, Marbellis Linares, head of press at Sunacrip in Venezuela, said via Twitter that the Bitcoin payment option is in fact not “functional” and has denied reports that the service is true.
It is not working, it is false information. https://t.co/BxaH0jWIBn
– Marbellis Linares (@marbeclinares) June 24, 2020
Linares was responding to a report by the cryptocurrency news site “Cryptoticias”, which was able to verify the option by requesting a passport through the Venezuelan consulate in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The information, however, could not be confirmed using a Brazilian application, suggesting that the option was not available to all potential candidates.
For example, the option did not appear to be available to anyone in Venezuela; in this case, the only acceptable payments are still bolivars – the official fiat currency – and Petro, the state-supported cryptocurrency.
However, several users in several countries confirmed via social media that the BTC payment option appeared on SAIME’s website this morning. The payment option has since been blocked. This combined with Linares’ statements on Twitter suggests that the Venezuelan government may simply be carrying out a test.
The adoption of cryptocurrencies in Venezuela has gradually become a political strategy of the Maduro government, as a way to circumvent the effects of economic sanctions. The Venezuelan government has already allowed payments in Petro for several public services, including the payment of gasoline.
Venezuela’s national public bank is also adapting its infrastructure to include cryptocurrency services, and the Maduro government recently admitted storing Bitcoin and Ethereum as part of its international reserves.
As sanctions intensify and the economic war between rival nations heats up, it appears that cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, could become a last line of defense – for better or for worse.