Venezuelan crypto exchange Criptolago has announced that it will launch a text message-based payment system that can process transactions in Venezuela’s oil-backed Petro (PTR) and other cryptocurrencies.

The system may expose new segments of Venezuela’s population to cryptocurrencies amid the country’s ongoing hyperinflation crisis — with the value of the Venezuelan bolivar fluctuating by 1.58% in the past 24 hours and roughly 2,500% in 12 months.

Criptolago unveils SMS-based crypto transfers

In a tweet published on April 6, Criptolago stated that it developed the service in response to a call from the country’s president for financial companies to develop payment platforms parallel to the Venezuelan banking system that can process Petro transfers:

“Following the guidelines of our president @NicolasMaduro and in favor of our #criptonation, with the new function of Payments for #SMS we have opened the possibility for all the Venezuelan people to carry out #Petro transactions in a very practical way.”

The SMS-based payments system can also process offline transactions in all crypto assets supported on Criptolago, meaning that Venezuelans can now transfer Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Dash (DASH), Venezuela bolivares and the proprietary token of the Venezuelan “investment cryptobank” Glufco without an internet connection.

With roughly 30% of Venezuela’s citizens unable to access the internet, Criptolago’s SMS-based payments system will likely enable new segments of the population to engage with cryptocurrencies. The service is exclusively available to registered users.

Venezuela is already the dominant source of volume on other offline crypto payment platforms — with the country representing 95% of the transactions using DashText since May 2019.

Venezuelans unable to agree on the price of Petro

Despite efforts from Venezuela’s president and former-bus driver Nicolas Maduro to mandate the use of PTR as a means of exchange in the country, an apparent uncertainty in the market makes the instrument unsuited for use as a currency.

According to local crypto news site Morocotacoin, on April 6, PTR was trading for $23 on Criptolago and $11.5 on AmberesCoin while official sources claimed Petro’s price to be above $50.