Venezuela thrusts itself into the controversial and volatile realm of cryptocurrencies on Tuesday as it launches its own digital offering - the petro - backed by the oil-rich nation's petroleum output.
The launch, which aims to issue petro tokens worth $6bn, is underpinned by Venezuela's oil reserves and President Nicolas Maduro claims that each token will be worth one barrel of its petroleum.
Many critics are viewing the launch as an ill-advised move to secure funding for the nation amid economic meltdown, severe political unrest and a burgeoning humanitarian crisis as refugees flee the country.
Sanctions by the US have banned financial institutions lending to the South American country and have made debt refinancing almost impossible as the country approaches bankruptcy.
Nevertheless, it is expected that US cryptocurrency enthusiasts will participate in the sale, despite the legal and investment risks.
Carlos Vargas, Venezuela's cryptocurrency superintendent, said on Monday: "There will be quite a few announcements about the start of the process. And there will surely be a lot of investors from Qatar, Turkey, and other parts of the Middle East, though Europeans and Americans will also participate."
US Senate reaction
Back in January, the proposed digital currency launch by Venezuela drew an irate response from US legislators. Bob Menendez, New Jersey Senator, said: "We have serious doubts about whether Venezuela has the capacity to launch a cryptocurrency."
"But regardless, it is imperative that the US Treasury Department is equipped with tools and enforcement mechanisms to combat the use of cryptocurrency to evade US sanctions in general, and in this case in particular."
Maduro's petro launch - announced at the heart of the most painful sell-off ever seen in the short lives of the cryptocurrencies - arrives as most are enjoying several days of gains.
The crypto-complex was rallying again on Monday, with bitcoin reclaiming the $11,000 level.
In mid morning trade in London:
- Bitcoin was up 4.59% at $10,913
- Ethereum was 3.18% higher at $945.09
- Ripple added 7.36% to $1.119
- Litecoin climbed 4.7% to $222.43