Venezuelan Government Exploring Bitcoin Payment Option for Passport Renewal Services

  • Venezuelan government via immigration authority SAIME might avail BTC payment options for passport application and renewal as indicated by recent ‘test-run’ as the SAIME website extended the option briefly before disabling it.
  • The country seeks to embrace cryptocurrencies to mitigate sanctions as its national fiat’s value is experiencing hyperinflation and has plummeted to almost zero.

News has emerged that soon Venezuelans shall be able to apply for their passports via Bitcoin. This was first revealed by a Reddit post showing a BTC payment option available for passport application on the Administrative Identification, Migration, and Alien Services (SAIME) official website.

The information was further collaborated by twitter users who confirmed that immigration watchdog SAIME had extended the BTC payment option for passport application and renewals. There is also an indication that they might even extend support to Visa and MasterCard as it was marked coming soon. This might have been brought about by economic sanctions placed by the US. The other alternatives of paying for the service are by using their fiat currency, the Bolivar, or leverage their state-backed crypto, Petro.

Inaccessible to Venezuelan Residents

However, the option wasn’t available to residents of Venezuela. This was confirmed by the owner of the original post, who disclosed that he was unable to complete the transaction hours after the initial post. Users in other countries such as Brazil were able to utilize the option which has since vanished from the site indicating that the government was simply conducting test runs.

Huge appetite for crypto

Notably, Venezuela has been seen to increase its crypto uptake with the sanctions well underway. With banking halls inaccessible indefinitely due to global Covid-19 pandemic, the Venezuelan based witnesses have noted a surge in P2P BTC transactions. Their legislature has recently amended government policies offering the residents fuel at subsidized prices. The residents can now make gas payments with their national crypto petro, alongside their fiat currency.

With the national fiat facing hyperinflation now almost valueless, they have turned to crypto for cross border remittances. Valiu, a Colombia based startup, has availed a BTC backed crypto dollar. Although tests are still underway for the synthetic dollar, they have partnered with Latin food delivery firm, Rappi, as they anticipate tremendous market response on launch.

There has also been mention of government holding BTC and Ethereum as part of their international reserves. The country’s main revenue generator Petroleos de Venezuela SA, is looking for ways to transfer BTC and ETH to the central bank to fulfill their financial obligations.

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