The bank has stressed that it was only planning to launch an additional and alternative platform for payments. "[Yet, we are not going] to stop the operations of international debit and credit card systems", the statement said.
Earlier this week, the news portal Banca y Negocios reported that the bank and the country's banking sector regulator SUDEBAN had decided to launch their own payment system and halt Visa, Mastercard, and Maestro operations by the end of January 2020.
SUDEBAN allegedly instructed financial institutions to create an independent payment system in light of the recent US sanctions against Venezuela as well as new threats, according to the report.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro earlier in May said that his country was liberating itself from the US dollar. The president called the ongoing changes a process of liberation from the US blockade.
Caracas has been under US sanctions since 2015, and the restrictions have been expanded several times. Washington has targeted Venezuelan officials and businesses with multiple sanctions in recent months amid a campaign to force Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power.
The situation in Venezuela has been tense since January, when US-backed opposition leader Guaido illegally declared himself the country’s interim president after disputing Maduro's re-election. The United States and 54 countries have recognised Guaido. However, Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey and a number of other countries have said they recognise constitutionally-elected Maduro as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.
Maduro has called Guaido a puppet of the United States and accused Washington of trying to orchestrate a coup to effect a change in government and take over Venezuela’s natural resources.