Venezuela’s largest department store will install blockchain-enabled cash registers in its 49 retail outlets.
The megastore operator Traki announced August 22, it will integrate Singapore-based Pundi X’s point-of-sale device, XPOS, to offer a cryptocurrency payment rail for shoppers.
Already available in 30 countries, Pundi aims to sell 100,000 XPOS devices by 2021. This is part of the firm’s plan to introduce cryptocurrencies for everyday use, through an ecosystem of financial products like its XPASS crypto debit cards and Xwallet.
“We made the XPOS with the mission of creating real-life use cases for blockchain technology, and this couldn’t be better represented than Traki shoppers paying for their daily needs with cryptocurrency,” said Pundi X CEO, Zac Cheah.
Cheah continued to say that Traki has been an early adopter of blockchain technology in Venezuela.
“At Traki, we aspire to offer the most convenient options for our customers, and cryptocurrency has proven to be an effective payment solution,” said Michael Gomez, Chief of Crypto Assets department of Traki. Of Pundi’s near-300,000 wallet users, approximately one-tenth are based in Venezuela.
A period of hyperinflation and lack of liquidity has seen many Venezuelans adopt cryptocurrency as a store of value and payment option. Last year, President Nicolas Marduro launched the petro dollar cryptocurrency, pegged to the South American nation’s vast oil reserves, as a means to sidestep economic sanctions. Maduro recently ordered banks and state-owned companies to use the token.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his administration appear to be leveraging tax revenue and cryptocurrencies as part of a broader effort to evade economic sanctions, an investigation by Spanish newspaper ABC has found.
As detailed in a story published Monday, the newspaper asserts it uncovered a scheme by which Maduro and his associates were using a digital wallet app to turn tax revenue from domestic airports into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that were then transferred to exchanges in Hong Kong, Hungary, Russia and China.
There, the funds were converted and sent back to Venezuela, according to the report.
The effort is the latest example of how the ban on Maduro’s government from using US bank accounts and from participating in the open international market has forced it to look at cryptocurrencies as a way to obtain dollars.
The newspaper alleges that the tax revenue in question came from the Maiquetia International Airport (IAIM) located near Caracas, the country’s capital, and that taxes were collected through an automated system that works with an app called Jetman Pay.
Maduro’s administration is said to be in talks to expand its use of the app, including for proceeds it collects from refueling airplane that traffic the airport.
In a contract – allegedly yet to be signed – the Jetman Pay app would be used to directly defy the U.S. ban again. Under the scheme, a plane would land at IAIM, at which point it would transfer fiat currencies in exchange for fuel. Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A, the state’s oil and natural gas company, would then use the app to pay government taxes, upon which it would be sent abroad as cryptocurrency.
The automated system has been used at IAIM since February 2018 for airport tax collection.
The report concluded by speculating that Maduro may be looking to expand the scheme to other airports across the country.