We tell you what Tether/USDT is.
Bitcoin showed hopes of becoming a fast, convenient and secure means of payment. By the end of 2017, it became clear that in the form in which it is now, it is impossible to implement such a thing. What it is still suitable for is speculation. Probably, for this purpose, the Bitfinex exchange used it together with the company issuing the "tokenized" dollar â€” Tether (known to many as USDT). Together, they were able to issue half a billion virtual money in just a month, break through the bitcoin price levels of $10,000 and even $20,000, and then "collapse the game". Editorial office of AIN.UA tells how the" dollar-backed " cryptocurrency was created and why it became one of the main reasons for the growth of bitcoin.
Tether is a cryptocurrency that uses the bitcoin blockchain to conduct financial transactions and is tied to fiat currencies, in particular the US dollar, euro and Japanese yen. For each currency, there is a token identical to its index, but with the suffix "T": USDT, EURT, JPYT. Tether Limited issues tokens, assuring that each of them is backed by a real reserve on the accounts â€” one million tokens in circulation is strictly equal to one million units of fiat currency on the company's accounts.
The Tether cryptocurrency itself is built on the basis of the open source Omni Layer protocol, which interacts with the blockchain and ensures the issuance and redemption of cryptocurrency tokens based on bitcoin. Users can transfer the issued tokens, buy any other cryptocurrency for them, or simply store them in any wallet that supports Omni Layer. It is worth noting that tokens are issued only in the amount the equivalent of which has been credited to the company's account. Accordingly, the token disappears from circulation according to exactly the same scheme.
Tether uses an alternative to the Proof of Solvency method â€” proof of reservation, or Proof of Reserves. The process is banal: the amount of tokens is checked on the bitcoin blockchain using publicly available tools, and the corresponding amount of dollar reserves is confirmed by bank accounts and periodic audits. The company regularly publishes the amount of funds on a separate website, and Taiwanese and American audit firms often conduct appropriate checks.
The company Tether Limited stated about the parity between USD and USDT â€” one token should be equal in value to one dollar. This trend was observed until April 2017, but soon USDT fell in price to the level of $0.91, and later rose to the level of $1.1. The jumps in the exchange rate continue to this day, and it was not possible to achieve a permanent parity in the price. One of the possible reasons may be a fake link to fiat currencies â€” many analysts claim that the amount of USDT issued at the moment is simply not supported by the equivalent in USD.
The topic of the tokenized dollar was not particularly touched upon until the publication of the "paradise dossier" on November 5, 2017. It was then that it became known about the connection between the management of Tether Limited and one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Bitfinex. According to the published documents, Philip Potter, the chief strategic planning officer of the Bitfinex exchange, and Giancarlo Devazini, the chief financial officer of the Bitfinex exchange, together founded the company Tether Limited in the British Virgin Islands back in 2014. At the same time, the CEO of Bitfinex, Ludovic Jean van der Velde, also holds a similar position at Tether Ltd.
Based on this information, users of the platforms initiated their own investigation. As a result, Tether and Bitfinex were accused of conspiring to artificially pump the price of bitcoin. According to analysts and other members of the bitcoin community, Tether issued 150 million USDT tokens in just one month (by November 2017), which instantly affected the situation on the cryptocurrency market. For comparison, in March 2017, the volume of issued tokens was only 44 million. From November 8 to 10, another 70 million tokens were issued, which also immediately affected the exchange rate. Since the start of the issue, orders for the purchase of bitcoin with a total amount of about $25 million, including a single order worth $13.5 million, have been closed on the Bitfinex exchange in just one day. In just an hour, the price of bitcoin then rose from $7000 to $7400, and then the situation on the market provoked new record values.
The change in the price of Tether (USDT) over the past six months. The trading volumes are shown below on the column chart â€” a serious growth began in November / CoinMarketCap
The debate about USDT continues today. According to the documentation, tokens can be sold on the Tether platform at any time, but the rules also state that USDT tokens are not money or monetary instruments, and Tether Limited "is not obliged to exchange its tokens for fiat currencies, and also does not guarantee such exchange and protection against losses during purchase, sale or redemption." Some experts believe that in this way the company is insured against possible restrictions in different jurisdictions, but at the same time, the cryptocurrency may simply lose real security. At the same time, the PR department of Tether Limited even publicly admitted that USDT tokens are provided not with US dollars of real buyers, but with other cryptocurrencies that are convertible into Tether. The company itself is still delaying the moment of an independent audit, which could show what kind of reserve Tether actually manages. According to unverified information, now less than half of the equivalent currency of the total issued volume of tokens is on the reserve account.
At the end of November, the company's official blog also posted a message about a hack, as a result of which reserves decreased by more than $30 million. Immediately after the incident, the Omni Foundation platform, which developed the protocol for Tether, released a new version of its software. The platform itself was frozen, and the stolen tokens were blacklisted, as Tether informed its users:
"This action was not taken lightly and allowed Tether to protect itself from any further potential disruptions in the ecosystem and try to protect the entire community," the company's website says.
At the same time, representatives of Tether also stated that the company is developing a new platform for exchanging tokenized fiat currencies, and in the future, support for current wallets and addresses will be discontinued. Currently, Tether does not accept applications for registration and advises users to exchange their tokens on third-party exchanges "to prevent possible loss of funds."