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Tether means being ‘tethered’ to the US dollar value

  • Lately, the price of Bitcoin dropped because of the revelation that U.S. regulators are scrutinizing firms responsible for the cryptocurrency Tether.
  • Speculations have been going around that Tether, crypto linked to the dollar lacks the currency reserves to support it.
  • The firm behind Tether vehemently refutes these accusations.
  • There are concerns that if they are genuine, Tether collapse could tank crypto and Bitcoin exchanges due to its central responsibility in the market.

The cost of Bitcoin plummeted on the 30th of January 2018 following revelations that two firms, Tether and Bitfinex has been sued by CFTC (U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission). There has been anxiety in the cryptocurrency market for many months, concerning the position of Tether, which is a cryptocurrency that was released by Tether Limited. Its role in the functioning of a lot of top exchanges is vital, such as Bitfinex. However, there is a rumor that the firm responsible for it might not have the dollar reserves it alleges. If this idea is accurate, it can make the cost of bitcoin fall and possibly slow down the functioning of a lot of exchanges.

What does Tether Entail?

Tether presents a cryptocurrency that the US dollar intends to support one-for-one. The concept is to blend the dollar’s cost stability with a cryptocurrency’s functional capability. Individuals in the world of crypto refer to it as a stablecoin. The cryptocurrency was formed in 2015, and at first, it was known as Realcoin. Today, there exists USDT valued at $2 billion in circulation, states, an industry information source. The previous November, it experienced a hack of $31 million. Tether Limited, a firm located in the British Virgin Islands, provides tokens for Tether, indicates the New York Times. The website for Tether suggests that it has affiliations in Hong Kong and its offices are in the U.S. The firm’s management team is a lot similar to the one of Bitfinex, a cryptocurrency exchange found in Hong Kong. It ranks among the hugest in the globe. For instance, the CEO of Tether and Bitfinex is Jan Ludovicus van der Velde while the chief strategy officer for the two companies is Philip Potter.

Who Utilizes Tether?

‘Any person that is trading on a big exchange (has Tethers),’ Business Insider was informed by Mati Greenspan, an eToro market analyst. ‘Exchanges such as Bitfinex do not hold the balance of a client in dollars, but in USDT. Therefore, if a person’s cash is on an exchange like Bitfinex and they lack any presently available positions, it is probable that they are in Tether.’ A lot of cryptocurrency exchanges experience hardship working with conventional banks that are scared of working with crypt companies. Tether provides a reliable option, providing the low unpredictability of the dollar to users and exchanges as well.

A source in the sector who declined being quoted informed BI: ‘Tether is utilized by crypto-to-crypto exchanges since it enables them to sell crypto properties in USD without the need to own or maintain bank accounts that are USD-dominated.’ It is especially useful to a lot of platforms because of the complexities involved in sustaining banking connections in the crypto sphere.’ The website of Tether states that it ‘lets you keep, transmit and obtain digital tokens worldwide, from one person to another instantly and safely for a portion of the price offered by other options.’

‘Holding client money as Tether signifies that exchanges can reduce the prices of transactions up to when a client wishes to redeem their cash as dollars. After this, Tether can be swapped for those dollars. Also, traders utilize USDT for locking in returns in periods of instability and even move money from one platform to the next. The firm that manages and distributes Tether should hold US dollar reserves to support all the issued Tethers. It is a bit similar to the way the Federal Reserves uses gold to backstop dollars. Theoretically, people who have Tether can use $1 to trade one USDT back to Tether Ltd. However, there have been rising concerns in the cryptocurrency society that Tether Limited lacks enough currency reserves to support all the Tethers that are circulating. Greenspan informed BI, ‘It is alleged that, and this allegation has been growing of late, that they do not have those reserves.’ ‘They have not practiced a lot of transparency regarding the location they are holding them, and the quantity they are holding in varied areas.’

In November, the New York Times indicated, ‘One insistent online critic using the screen term Bitfinex’ed seems to be forming Tether coins from out of nowhere and then utilizing them to purchase Bitcoin and increase the cost.’ An unidentified Tether statistical analysis published online recently and distributed in the world of crypto alleged the same thing saying: ‘It is very improbable that Tether is developing via any organic business procedure. Instead, they are printing to provide a solution to market situations.’ According to the report, printing Tethers is inclined to match a decline in bitcoin cost, indicating that it might be used to purchase affordable Bitcoin. ‘Printing tether makes the market appreciate; 48.8% of the cost of BTC increased in the period researched, and this happened in the within two hours after the onset of 91 varied Tether contributions to the wallet of Bitfinex,’ stated the study.

In January alone, new Tethers valued at $850 million were printed, and a lot of market contributors are concerned about the speed used to mint new Tethers without appropriate documentation indicating their backing. Last September, Tether issued a document for accounting to confirm its holdings; but, a lawyer informed the New York Times that the documents term, ‘did not verify that dollars support the Tether coins.’ Accountants Friedman LLP arranged the document and was thoroughly auditing Tether’s books. However, at the beginning of this week, there was news that the association had ‘collapsed.’ It has led to more anxiety.

What is the Impact on Crypto Markets?

If Tether is experiencing an issue, it could suffer broader knock-on impacts for the general cryptocurrency market because of its major role in a lot of exchanges. ‘The problem is that of late, the capacities against Tether have been developing.’ ‘Already, they have exceeded 10% of overall capacities on Bitcoin for some weeks.’ If there lack enough reserves in US dollars, the cost of Tether should not be fixed to the US dollar, and only the market will determine it. It is worrying that if the price of Tether decreases, this might also lead to a fall in the Bitcoin cost and other crypto assets that individuals have been selling with USDT.

The Daily Express anticipated a reduction in cost of up to 80%, terming it a ‘bloodbath.’ Bitcoin made a modest fall on Tuesday following the news that the CFTC had subpoenaed Tether and Bitfinex. If Tether gets untethered from the dollar, it is also going to trigger issues for exchanges that utilize it as an alternative for client money. It might lead to liquidity problems and if the worst comes to the worst, compel them to look for more capital. This week, Wired wrote, ‘If traders do not trust tether, in the end, they might prompt the crypto kind of a bank run.’

Opinion of the firm behind it

Tether Limited has refuted in the strongest terms the allegations against it. It was adamant that it possessed the dollar reserves to support all the circulating Tethers and stated it is using its money appropriately. In a statement in December, the firm said it recognizes ‘queries and uncertainties all over the community,’ but said it  ‘is unable to reveal much concerning the continuing investigations,’ connected to the November hack. It indicated that the allegations that it fails to hold dollars to support its cryptocurrency are ‘ignorant and unfounded,’ but acknowledged that ‘it is unable to form or redeem tether for any clients based in the U.S. currently.’ The firm has engaged a law company to sue the individual responsible for the unidentified Bitfinex’ed Twitter account.

Tether informed Business Insider in a response sent via email to queries regarding its audit: ‘We verify that the link with Friedman is ended. Because of the dreadfully detailed processes being undertaken by Friedman for the reasonably simple Tether balance sheet, it became apparent that it would not be possible to get an audit in good time.  Since Tether is the first firm in the sphere to go through this procedure and follow this rate of transparency, there lacks any pattern fixed to direct the process nor any scale against which to gauge its success. ‘We are dedicated to the procedure, and as we have constantly done, we shall go on giving material updates at the suitable periods.’ In an email, the firm informed Bloomberg in answer to the subpoena: ‘We regularly obtain legal procedure from agents of law enforcement and regulators carrying out investigations.’ Our policy is to avoid mention of any demands.’

What does the future hold?

‘I have confidence that the entire issue will be sorted immediately,’ Greenspan informed BI. ‘The doubt has a bad impact on the market.’ In January, following a significant run-up in the cost before Christmas, the cost of Bitcoin has decreased by about 40%. Other cryptocurrencies have experienced the same negations. The crash is not a result of concerns about Tether; however, the problem emerges at a period when there is doubt concerning cryptocurrencies. The next measures for Tether are a bit unclear now. It is likely that US regulators or Tether Ltd are hiring another auditor to examine its books. The CoinDesk director of research, Nolan Bauerie informed Business Insider that he is hopeful because Tether has provided new USDT from the beginning of December when CFTC issued a subpoena.

He remarked, ‘that signifies that Bitfinex has provided Tether under the monitoring of CFTC from that time. Importantly, it means that the USD truly supports the coin. If Bitfinex has been providing Tether that does not have enough support by USD, in spite of being under the monitoring of CFTC, it will rank among the most daring activities we have experienced from an exchange in this sphere.’ Regardless of what occurs, Greenspan is upbeat that cryptocurrency markets can withstand it. ‘This market endured a China blanket prohibition.’ ‘It can withstand anything.’