Time is a flat circle. Everything we have done or will do we will do over and over and over again—forever.
The rumors were true, on October 01, six zeroes will be cut from our currency, marking the official death of the ill-fated Sovereign Bolivar, ushering in the birth of the “Digital” Bolivar. This is the third time that the Bolivarian Revolution has axed zeroes off our currency: Three in 2008 (Bolivar Fuerte), five in 2018 (Bolivar Soberano), and now six in 2021.
That means that a whopping fourteen zeroes have been axed so far. On October 01, 2021, one of these new Digital Bolivars will be worth 100,000,000,000,000.00 of the “Original” Bolivars (the ones that existed up until 2008).
Unlike the previous two announcements, this one isn’t even shocking at all, and I couldn’t be more indifferent about it. Given all that’s happened and keeps happening in the country, yet another currency redenomination is something I’m fairly desensitized about, more so than our day to day economic scenario is fairly different from 2018’s.
To be fair, it was a necessary measure, as we were once again in a cumbersome and convoluted position of required scientific notation for large scale accounting and banking bookkeeping — to the point that we were once again simplifying our monetary transactions by removing three zeros from it, in a colloquial an informal manner, that is.
Heck, I was already second guessing myself more than once when dealing with large amounts, such as last month, when I paid over 123 million Bolivars for my brother’s birthday pizzas.
While this is being heralded as a new ‘Digital’ era for Venezuela’s legal tender, the fanfare and propaganda surrounding this new “Digital” era of the Bolivar is just that, fanfare and propaganda. For all intents and purposes, the Venezuelan Bolivar became a digital currency long ago.
The US Dollar, ever so demonized by the ideological spheres of power within the socialist party, has become the de facto cash currency, substituting the Bolivar for most of the day-to-day cash transactions. Payment processors, such as the ever so popular Zelle and PayPal, have also come to take care of digital transactions using foreign currency.
Regardless of its form (physical or digital), it goes without saying that those with access to foreign currency are the ones that do not suffer the utter misery of having to live with a currency that loses its value by the minute.
In addition to foreign currencies, the use of Cryptocurrencies continues to spread throughout the country — certainly at a slower pace than foreign cash, but this is now a country where you can find from electronics stores, bakeries or even fast food places openly accepting varied types of crypto — real ones, unlike the regime’s scam one.
There is no point in going to an ATM to withdraw Bolivars, as the current banknotes themselves are worthless and have no realistic use beyond bus or subway fares — besides, ATMs are barely functional these days, it is estimated that only 5% of the country’s ATMs remain operational. The Bolivar is still a requirement to pay for certain things, such as utilities and the subsidized monthly gasoline rations.
Regardless, this new Digital Bolivar will come with a new series of banknotes, and even with a Bs. 1 coin, I can’t even remember the last time I’ve paid with something using coins, it’s been that long.
As for the new banknotes themselves, they are lazy and hastened recolors that share the same overall design of the Sovereign Bolivar’s short-lived 200,000, 500,000, and 1,000,000 banknotes. The same CGI Bolivar that the revolution has been touting for more than a decade now in the front, and imagery allusive to Venezuela’s historic Battle of Carabobo on the reverse, along with the logo that the regime commissioned for its 200th anniversary.
It’s been years since people have had to carry wads of worthless cash in Venezuela, courtesy of our debit cards, our digital Weimar Wheelbarrows, if you will. One caveat of Venezuela’s economic collapse is that it forced the banking sector to push and invest in a more robust infrastructure and come up with solutions for citizens to be able to make payments in a country drowning by hyperinflation.
Each bank has their own Peer to Peer “Pago Movil” apps, which seamlessly work with one another. That, plus the usual wire transfers and a debit card payment network that’s much more stable than in years past (aside from the government owned banks, that is) has been taking care of the ‘cashless’ aspect of the Venezuelan currency.
That old and worn debit card, and my bank’s app are my two Weimar Wheelbarrows.
On the other hand, it’s made having a working smartphone a necessity — and don’t get me started on internet connectivity…
The Sovereign Bolivar, launched in 2018, didn’t even make it through its first year before dying, and it’s pretty much been a moribund or undead currency since 2019. The Sovereign Bolivar banknotes, which, as of the time of writing this post, are worthless yet legal tender, will find some proper real value now that they’ll soon become a collectors item for numismatic enthusiasts.
I have some Sovereign Bolivar banknotes left along with some past iterations of the Bolivar, including a handful of Bs 5 notes from the 80s. I know there’s some really old banknotes from the 90s around my house, gonna look for them and see if I can take all of these with me when I finally get to leave this country.
This new currency alone will not fix anything, this is simply restarting a cycle and easing transactions. Same regime, same hyperinflation, same everything, the only difference is that foreign currency and crypto are more life-saving that ever before It took ten years for the revolution to remove five zeroes from the 2008 iteration of the Bolivar — it now took them only three years to remove six zeroes.
Yeah, I guess that once this new Digital Bolivar begins circulating in October, WoW gold will no longer be worth more than the Bolivar, but fear not! You may start placing your bets and try and guess when WoW gold will be once again more valuable than this new version of the Bolivar. Feel free to start placing bets on when we will have to axe zeroes again — and while you’re at it, feel free to start throwing ideas for what it should be named, I already got some ideas: Bolivar Calvo, Bolivar Verde (Forma super Devaluada), or Or SSGSS Bolivar (Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Bolivar).
This currency is getting rebooted faster than Hollywood and its movie reboots, lol.
Until the next zero axing time,