USDT Hits $100 Billion Milestone as Tether Plans Stablecoin Recovery Tools

USDT Hits $100 Billion Milestone as Tether Plans Stablecoin Recovery Tools

On the day USDT reached a milestone $100 billion market cap, the company behind the stablecoin, Tether, announced recovery plans for holders if a blockchain was ever disrupted.

The $100bn market cap is a testament to the value of stablecoins in both the cryptocurrency realm and across TradFi, but it, at times, has been a rocky road to reach such widespread adoption.

On March 4, Tether released a recovery process to protect users’ funds if a blockchain is disrupted, as it attempts to allay concerns about the risk of using USDT.

USDT is now the third largest cryptocurrency by market cap, behind Bitcoin and Ethereum — with BTC itself narrowing in on its own ATH.

 

 

Key Takeaways

  • Tether, the stablecoin behind USDT, has hit a $100 billion market cap milestone.
  • With its widespread adoption on 14 blockchains, especially on the Tron network, Tether has become the third-largest cryptocurrency, trailing only Bitcoin and Ethereum.
  • In response to concerns about blockchain disruptions, Tether has introduced a recovery plan to safeguard users’ funds.
  • Users will be able to validate a transaction to another chain if disruption occurs.
  • Concerns about Tether’s backing have persisted since its inception, but the company seems to be shaking the reputation off through closer scrutiny of its reserves.

Tether tokens are available on 14 blockchains and have become especially popular on the Tron network, where low transaction fees are encouraging users in certain countries to buy and sell USDT as an alternative to devalued local currencies.

Tron has overtaken the Ethereum chain for the largest share of USDT in circulation, accounting for $50.4 billion compared with $40.6 billion on Ethereum, according to DeFi Llama data.

USDT Protection if a Blockchain Goes Offline

The new recovery tool aims to enable users to maintain access to their Tether stablecoins if the blockchain they are hosted on goes down.

The company said:

“In the event that any blockchain on which USDT is available becomes disrupted, Tether has developed and will implement its proactive measures to ensure uninterrupted accessibility for our holders, and safeguarding users’ accessibility to their USDT.”

Users would be able to migrate their USDT tokens to another blockchain through a web interface or command-line tools by cryptographically signing a migration request to verify ownership.

The web-based option supports popular browser extension wallets and hardware wallets, while the command-line interface allows users to enter their private key directly, enabling them to sign the request using an open-source script on their local machine.

Why USDT is Surging

Interest in crypto has surged since the approval of several bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) by the US Securities and Exchange Commission in January, in turn increasing demand for USDT as an on-ramp and off-ramp to convert funds to and from cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

Trading volumes in investment products reached a record of over $30 billion last week, driven by ETF demand, according to digital asset manager CoinShares, at times representing 50% of global Bitcoin daily trading volumes on trusted exchanges.

Total assets under management (AUM) reached $82.6 billion, approaching the all-time high of $86 billion at the peak of the market in early November 2021.

Fiat currency-pegged stablecoins such as Tether typically mint (or create) new tokens when users submit a transaction to convert their fiat at a value of 1:1.

So if a user requests to buy $100 worth of a stablecoin, 100 tokens are minted.

But Tether recently authorized a mint of $1 billion in USDT on the Ethereum blockchain to replenish inventory in preparation for an increase in issuance requests and swaps between blockchains, according to a post on X, formerly Twitter, by Tether’s chief executive officer, Paolo Ardoino.

 

Ardoino expects crypto demand to increase as more funds and companies invest in Bitcoin now that the ETFs give them the legitimacy that they need to convince accountants and auditors they should hold some on their balance sheets.

Ardoino said in a panel discussion last week:

“We are going to see a wide range of hedge funds and pension funds that will start to add Bitcoin to their portfolio now that the Bitcoin ETF is out there.

“More and more fund managers are interested in starting to add up to 5% of their portfolio into Bitcoin.

“But ultimately one of the most interesting things is companies more and more will start keeping part of their unused balance sheet in Bitcoin… and that will grow over time.”

Stablecoins are also at the forefront of retail interest in crypto.

Intergovernmental blockchain expert Anndy Lian, speaking to Techopedia about Tether, said:

“Tether is a remarkable achievement in the cryptocurrency space, as it provides a stable and convenient way to use fiat currencies on the blockchain.

“USDT as stablecoins that are pegged 1-to-1 with a matching fiat currency are widely adopted across major exchanges, OTC desks, and wallets, and have surpassed Bitcoin in terms of trading volume.

“USDT is a sign of how useful stablecoins are in the world, as they bridge the gap between the traditional and the digital financial systems.

“They offer the benefits of both worlds: the stability and familiarity of fiat currencies, and the speed and transparency of the blockchain. It also reduces the volatility and complexity that are often associated with cryptocurrencies, making them more accessible and appealing to a wider audience.

Tether’s reliance on a “trust me” status has raised doubts and suspicions among some investors and observers, who question the legitimacy and sustainability of Tether’s operations.

“Fast forward to today, Tether has refined its operations and is the widely used stablecoin in the world now. In my humble opinion, doubts about them have gone down a lot.”

“Stablecoins are becoming increasingly important,” according to Dina White, General Counsel at Zodia Markets, a digital asset brokerage and exchange platform.

“We are seeing this at Zodia Markets, particularly due to cross-border payment efficiencies and cost-savings. And they could become a widespread means of retail payment.”

Tether Strives for Legitimacy Amid Controversy

Tether’s growing popularity among crypto users extends to criminal groups, which are increasingly using USDT to transfer and launder money.

A recent United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report on organized crime in East and Southeast Asia (PDF) found that “USDT on the TRON155 blockchain has become a preferred choice for regional cyberfraud operations and money launderers alike due to its stability and the ease, anonymity, and low fees of its transactions.”

The report added: “Between September 2022 and September 2023, a recent fund audit of USDT-based transactions by one independent blockchain data analysis company found transactions totaling 17.07 billion USDT connected to underground currency exchanges, illegal commodity trades, unlawful collection and payment processes, and various criminal activities.

“Law enforcement and financial intelligence authorities in East and Southeast Asia have also reported USDT among the most popular cryptocurrencies used by organized crime groups, demonstrated by a surging volume of cyber fraud, money laundering, and underground banking-related cases.”

Tether responded to the report with criticism that “the UN’s analysis ignores the traceability of Tether tokens and the proven record Tether has of collaborating with law enforcement.

“We are disappointed in the UN’s assessment that singles out USDT highlighting its involvement in illicit activity while ignoring its role in helping developing economies in emerging markets, completely neglected by the global financial world simply because servicing such communities would be unprofitable for them.

“Rather than focusing solely on risks, the UN should also discuss how centralized stablecoins can improve anti-financial crime efforts.”

Tether stated that it collaborates with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the US Secret Service (USSS) to monitor USDT tokens, ensuring that traceability surpasses “traditional banking systems that for decades have been the vessel for laundering substantial sums proven by the fines that have been levied on them.”

Tether has also developed a tool to monitor secondary markets with blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis.

“Tether tokens, using public blockchains, make it possible to meticulously track every transaction, making it an impractical choice for illicit activities. This is evident in our freezing of more than US$300 million within the last few months, showcasing our commitment to combating the criminal use of cryptocurrencies,” the statement added.

Is Growing Tether Usage Supported by Real Value?

Launched in 2014, Tether has long been controversial because of speculation about whether the full value of USDT in circulation is backed by real collateral.

In 2021, Tether paid fines of $41 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and $18.5 million to the New York Attorney General’s Office for falsely claiming that USDT was backed by US dollars on a 1:1 basis between 2016 and 2019.

The company now publishes daily reserve data, monthly reports, and quarterly reviews breaking down its reserves, which it says are independently audited.

Its most recent report for December 2023 showed total cash holdings of $82.1 billion, $3.5 billion in precious metals, $2.8 billion in Bitcoin, $3.8 billion in other investments, and $4.8 billion in secured loans, along with $44 million in corporate bonds.

 

 

 

Source: https://www.techopedia.com/usdt-hits-100-billion-milestone-as-tether-plans-stablecoin-recovery-tools

Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author- “NFT: From Zero to Hero” and “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.

Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.

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Can Global Cooperation Achieve Consistent Stablecoin Regulation?

Can Global Cooperation Achieve Consistent Stablecoin Regulation?

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital finance, stablecoins have emerged as a pivotal bridge between traditional and cryptocurrency markets. As their influence grows, so does the imperative to establish a robust regulatory framework.

What are the ins of stablecoin regulation, and where could it be headed in the future?

FSB’s 10 Recommendations

In mid-July 2023, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) published its financial report on the regulation, supervision, and oversight of global stablecoin arrangements.

A total of 10 recommendations were endorsed by the member countries of G20. The FSB’s report reads: “The High-level Recommendations seek to promote consistent and effective regulation, supervision, and oversight of GSCs across jurisdictions to address the potential financial stability risks posed by GSCs, both at the domestic and international level, while supporting responsible innovation and providing sufficient flexibility for jurisdictions to implement domestic approaches.”

One of the key recommendations issued by the FSB is the requirement for stablecoin issuers to secure local licenses before operating in specific jurisdictions.

Explaining why it would be vital for governments to regulate stablecoins, Andrew Silverman, a tax analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said:

“Stablecoins, in my view, are not significantly different from derivatives, and governments have regulated derivatives for as long as they have existed. Allowing a financial instrument to go unregulated gives people and companies the ability to circumvent the rules simply by using a contract to stand in for an asset, and that opens up opportunities for abuse.”

Silverman added that the introduction of local licenses would allow governments to have broader control over which stablecoin issuers are operating in their jurisdiction. This could also allow governments to periodically obtain information from licensees, which could be the best “disinfectant” to avoid any regulatory or legal issues.

“Countries can also use licensing to keep the holders of licenses current on applicable laws and regulations, both in terms of maintaining current contact information with licensees and requiring acknowledgment of the current set of rules when a licensee renews their license,” Silverman noted.

Singapore, the First Country to Issue Stablecoin Regulation

On 15 August 2023, Singapore’s financial regulator was the first in the world to announce that it had finalized a set of rules on stablecoin regulation.

According to Anndy Lian, the author of NFT: From Zero to Hero, such a move has helped shape Singapore’s reputation as a “global hotspot for cryptocurrencies.” The introduced regulations highlight a number of requirements that include:

  • The reserves supporting stablecoins need to consist of low-risk and easily tradable assets, and their value must always be equal to or greater than the circulating value of the stablecoin.
  • In case of a redemption request, stablecoin issuers are required to reimburse holders with the nominal value of the digital currency within five business days.
  • Issuers are also obligated to furnish users with suitable information, which encompasses audit outcomes of reserves, among other details.

Lian explains, however, that even though introduced, the regulatory framework surrounding stablecoins “remains intricating and swiftly changing.”

“Different governing bodies, whether at the federal or state level, wield varying degrees of jurisdiction over transactions, contingent on the asset’s structure and the specific circumstances surrounding it. In light of this context, Singapore’s decision to finalize regulations for stablecoins holds tremendous significance.

“This step addresses the pertinent regulatory obstacles and boosts the advancement of stablecoins as a reputable medium of exchange within the digital asset ecosystem,” Linn added.

Stablecoin Regulation Going Global

The attempts of several major companies to launch their own stablecoins were previously met with some opposition from governing bodies. At the start of August 2023, PayPal announced the release of its own US-dollar pegged stablecoin – PayPal USD (PUSD). The stablecoin was launched in collaboration with Paxos Trust.

Since both companies are unregulated, meaning they are not examined by a federal banking agency which is why governing bodies are starting to turn towards regulating stablecoins.

But with cryptocurrencies being accessible on a global scale, how can stablecoin regulation be reached?

Bloomberg Intelligence’s Silverman noted that if governing bodies work together, they could communicate a single message. He added that the United States often holds major influence over other countries’ financial decisions, especially in the industry of decentralized finance (DeFi).

“Having an impact on US law-making indirectly influences other countries’ rule adoption. I would note, however, that consistent stablecoin regulation is not necessarily the ideal for all.  Companies and individuals that can arbitrage differences in countries’ stablecoin regulation could benefit from those distinctions.”

Lian added that Singapore’s stablecoin regulations could “potentially become a template for other nations grappling with their own regulatory frameworks.”

“Given Singapore’s standing as a meticulously overseen financial hub, its method of handling stablecoin regulations might emerge as a beacon for countries seeking to establish their own guidelines. Nevertheless, it is essential to acknowledge the swiftly evolving and intricate nature of the regulatory environment surrounding digital currencies.”

Can Stablecoin Regulation Prevent Another Market Meltdown?

Stablecoins are unique due to their ability to keep a 1:1 peg with the asset they are paired with, oftentimes the US dollar. However, on 9 May 2022, stablecoins made headlines when one of the biggest coins in the category – terra USD (UST), broke its peg from the US dollar.

UST’s collapse had led to major losses in the cryptocurrency industry, with many investors losing trust in stablecoins, fearing another collapse may be inevitable.

Silverman explained that by regulating stablecoins and essentially excluding speculative and volatile assets from supporting stablecoins, the assets could become “safer investments, or at least it will allow them to be viewed as safer investments.”

“I think the sentiment is good, but it could actually have the opposite effect. People viewed money market funds and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) as entirely safe before the financial crisis when that didn’t turn out to actually be the case. Perhaps, speculative and volatile assets will, in fact, be successfully barred from being included in stablecoins. Perhaps not.”

He added: “A safe asset can always quickly become volatile under the right circumstances. Giving people the impression that a financial instrument is entirely safe when it’s almost certainly never possible to guarantee safety is not ideal from a policy perspective.”

Lian suggested that regulation ensuring that the reserves supporting stablecoins focus on low-risk and highly liquid assets could function as “a safeguard, tethering the stablecoin’s value to assets that are less prone to drastic value wings and can be readily transformed into cash when necessary.”

The Bottom Line

Stablecoins have represented a significant milestone in the cryptocurrency industry by attempting to offer stability and versatility in an otherwise volatile industry.

Silverman noted that all regulations are intended to offer protection without doing much harm to the assets being regulated, however, every regulation has the potential to weigh in favor of companies or individuals.

“The impact of regulations and their interpretation also changes over time, so what is beneficial to companies today could be better for individuals in the future. We will see how things shake out. If a regulation is truly harmful it tends to be struck down in court or over-written by statute. There are checks and balances. The downside, of course, is that everyone has to put up with a subpar regulation for some time until it is changed.”

Source: https://www.techopedia.com/can-global-cooperation-achieve-consistent-stablecoin-regulation

Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author- “NFT: From Zero to Hero” and “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.

Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.

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How Singapore’s stablecoin rules could boost crypto’s ‘mainstream’ banking role

How Singapore’s stablecoin rules could boost crypto’s ‘mainstream’ banking role
  • Industry executives say the proposed rules by the Monetary Authority of Singapore are timely and will boost investor confidence
  • Recent moves by Hong Kong and Europe on rules governing stablecoins will also spur wider adoption of cryptocurrencies, according to the executives

 

The unpredictable price fluctuations of cryptocurrencies have been a make-or-break game for myriad investors across Asia for months.

However, only a handful of regional policymakers have ventured to integrate these volatile assets into the mainstream financial landscape.

Now, the latest move by Singapore’s central bank to introduce regulatory guidelines for stablecoins could prove to be a milestone for its rapid adoption in traditional channels like banks, analysts say.

Unlike other cryptocurrencies, stablecoins are viewed as safe haven assets as their values are pegged to traditional currencies or other assets such as government bonds and gold.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore building in Singapore. Photo: Bloomberg
The Monetary Authority of Singapore building in Singapore. Photo: Bloomberg

The Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) regulations announced last week will apply to nonbank users of single-currency stablecoins pegged to the Singapore dollar, or any currency from the world’s 10 biggest economies, and would require issuers to maintain low-risk reserves and return par value to investors within five days of receiving a redemption request.

“The MAS seems to be paving the way for greater trust and potential formal integration of stablecoins into the banking system.

However, as these regulations are scheduled to come into effect in 2024, their precise impact on bank transactions will [need to] be monitored closely,” said Chen Zhuling, founder and CEO of crypto finance gateway RockX.

The central bank would need to hold legislative consultations before Parliament passes amendments that would bring the framework into force. The coins will be labelled as MAS-regulated stablecoin.

The distinction of having central bank-regulated stablecoins, as opposed to non-regulated cryptocurrencies, is likely to ease concerns about their stability that have curtailed their usage for physical transactions, analysts say.

Stablecoins have been the backbone for cryptocurrency trading and can potentially slash transaction costs associated with traditional banking systems to a nominal amount, while speeding up processing times to seconds.

But stablecoins have in the past failed to make inroads into mainstream financial systems because of a lack of transparency about their reserves.

Popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether tend to suffer from high price volatility. Photo: Reuters
Popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether tend to suffer from high price volatility. Photo: Reuters

Anndy Lian, author of the book NFT: From Zero to Hero, said Singapore’s guidelines could bridge the gap between fiat currrencies and digital assets.

“But this should not necessarily mean that banks will start to accept all kinds of cryptocurrencies. The volatility of other cryptocurrencies is still a red flag for many,” he said.

Popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether tend to suffer from high price volatility, whereas stablecoins tend to hold steady since they are linked to fiat currencies and other such assets.

Despite their relative safety, clamours for regulation of stablecoins grew after two such sister currencies – Terra and Luna, whose values were algorithmically pegged to the US dollar and not backed by cash – suddenly collapsed in May last year.

Singapore’s strict guidelines are meant to reassure both investors and institutions that could open new avenues for the asset class, industry executives say.

“Banks may even issue stablecoins for tokenised bank deposits as part of their rapidly developing digital transformations,” said Gerald Goh, co-founder and CEO of Sygnum Singapore, a digital assets fintech group.

“This model – fully regulated, traditional-asset backed and pegged to a high-quality ‘stable’ fiat currency like the Singapore dollar – has the potential to become a blueprint for the industry,” he added.

Do Kwon, the cryptocurrency entrepreneur who created the failed Terra stablecoin, is taken to court in handcuffs in Montenegro in March. Photo: Reuters
Do Kwon, the cryptocurrency entrepreneur who created the failed Terra stablecoin, is taken to court in handcuffs in Montenegro in March. Photo: Reuters

First among digital equals

Singapore’s stablecoin framework will put it among the first jurisdictions to have rules to prevent mishaps.

Rival financial hub Hong Kong is, meanwhile, undergoing a public consultation on stablecoins and seeks to introduce regulation for them next year.

The European Commission set the ball rolling with the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation, which it introduced with the purpose of establishing a global benchmark for governing cryptos.

After being proposed by the commission in September 2020, the European Parliament approved the MiCA regulation on April 20. It is due to come into force for stablecoins from June 2024, and for other assets from December.

Anne-Sophie Cissey, head of legal and compliance at crypto firm Flowdesk, said the European legislation has set the tone for markets. “With clarification on the legal status, all crypto actors will feel more at ease to deal with those.”

Singapore’s regulation could speed up stablecoins adoption across the region, industry executives say.

“Regulators now collaborate with international entities, for example, MiCA’s announcement in Europe led to similar guidelines in various countries,” said Danny Chong, co-founder of online asset tracker Tranchess.

“This trend suggests that financial hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong should move towards converging rules. This convergence might take a few years to materialise, rather than happening immediately,” he said.

Hong Kong’s regulations are likely to follow Singapore’s soon, as it has been earnestly trying to woo crypto investors. In June, it introduced retail trading and licensing guidelines for crypto.

Many investors have already begun to gravitate towards tokenised assets.

“We are increasingly seeing more stablecoin adoption in Asia,” said Henry Zhang, founder and CEO of DigiFT, a Singapore-based decentralised digital asset exchange, adding that they were looking forward to introducing MAS-regulated stablecoins.

Tokenised US short-term bills have exploded to US$600 million this year, said Timo Lehes, co-founder of Swarm, a regulated decentralised finance platform based out of Germany, citing data from Coindesk.

The digital assets have also started making inroads past intermediaries in traditional financial channels, he said.

“We are already seeing applications taking tokenised forms of cash and financial products that cut out the middleman. In this new world, financial institutions will need to rethink financial product design that puts consumers at the heart,” Lehes said.

Central banks have laid the groundwork for cyptocurrency adoption with countries like China, India and Australia either planning to or having launched a central bank digital currency that can compete with stablecoins, said an industry executive.

“This will drive the choice and innovation needed in the market that will lead to mass adoption,” said Vincent Chok, CEO of Hong Kong finance firm First Digital.

Source: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/economics/article/3231578/how-singapores-stablecoin-rules-could-boost-cryptos-mainstream-banking-role

Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author- “NFT: From Zero to Hero” and “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.

Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.

j j j