New reports suggest that the Venezuelan government has started accepting bitcoin as payment for passport processes.
A screenshot posted on Reddit showcases the bitcoin payment prompt on the Administrative Service for Identification, Migration, and Foreigners (SAIME) website. The alternative option of paying by credit card was temporarily suspended.
Surprisingly, the option seemed only to be available for applicants outside Venezuela. It seems the Venezuelan government is testing its ability to accept bitcoin payments following its cross border payment challenges and a slew of economic sanctions by the US government. Payments within Venezuela are still in bolivars, the official currency, and Petros – their state-backed crypto.
However, Venezuela’s Sunacrip Press Chief Marbellis Linares has declared via Twitter that the bitcoin payment option is not, in fact, functional and said that the reports were fake news. This is despite several sources confirming the existence and functioning of the payment option. Later the SAIME website disabled the bitcoin payment option but left the inactive link visible.
The system is using the decentralized open-source BTC server called BTCpay. This payment gateway allows anyone to take bitcoin payments without the need for third-party involvement like the Venezuelan government.
Bitcoin as Alternative means of Payment for Services
The move to cryptocurrency as an alternative payment method has been driven as a way to circumvent economic sanctions on Venezuela. A state-backed plan promoting widespread use of tokens has seen a rise in the use of Petros for various public services.
Using bitcoin to pay for passport services is likely another way to shield from foreign government sanctions. There are an estimated 5-6 million Venezuelans who fled the country looking for better opportunities that might use the passport services.
However, Venezuela isn’t the only country embedding cryptocurrency in its public services. In Australia, people can now pay for Bitcoin at more than 3,500 post offices across the country. The world is seeing an increased number of physical locations offering to sell cryptocurrencies. Retail stores across the globe have started crypto of sale with more than 8000 Bitcoin automated teller machines units installed worldwide.
Crypto adoption in Venezuela might be forced by circumstance, but the rise in Bitcoin transaction volume in the country shows that something good is coming out of it.