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What is Tether (USDT)? | The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

What is Tether (USDT)

Tether is a cryptocurrency token pegged or “tethered” to the US dollar, so 1 Tether (USDT) is always equivalent to 1 US dollar (USD). To use an analogy, Tether is a bit like a casino chip. Casino chips represent money without being money. However, in theory, at the casino, you can always exchange the casino chip…

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Tether is a cryptocurrency token pegged or “tethered” to the US dollar, so 1 Tether (USDT) is always equivalent to 1 US dollar (USD). To use an analogy, Tether is a bit like a casino chip. Casino chips represent money without being money. However, in theory, at the casino, you can always exchange the casino chip into cash. Tether works on a similar principle. The Tether token is like a proxy for cash. Since it’s pegged one-to-one to the US dollar, the cryptocurrency community sees Tether as a stable coin.

Source: CoinMarketCap

The Tether token can help merchants and traders reap the benefits of maintaining a stable price from fiat currencies while leveraging the operational advantages of a cryptocurrency. Tether can also be very useful for many cryptocurrency exchanges that have difficulty working with banks.  

In this article, we’ll explore Tether’s features and demonstrate how it maintains its pegged rate. We’ll also look at the advantages of using the Tether token as well as some of the controversies surrounding the coin, while covering the following topics:

Tether is a cryptocurrency token issued by Tether Limited. Tether Limited is incorporated in Hong Kong with offices in Switzerland. According to CoinMarketCap, the Tether token is currently ranked the 14th most popular cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of $2.3 billion USD as of April 9, 2018.

While the most popular cryptocurrency by Tether Limited is their Tether token backed by US dollars (USDT), they’ve also released another option to purchase Tether backed by the Euro (EURT).

Tether Limited believes that cryptocurrencies are a new technology that should be leveraged to transact, store, and account for assets. However, there are still many obstacles that prevent their widespread use. These include price volatility, lack of understanding by the general public, and slight difficulty for non-technical people. Tether Limited saw this problem as an opportunity to bridge and utilize the advantages of fiat currency and cryptocurrencies.

Source: Tether.to

Tether’s transactional ledger and Tether token existed on the Bitcoin blockchain using the Omni Protocol, an open-source software that allowed the company to design, create, and trade the Tether token. However, on September 2017, Tether announced that they are collaborating with Ethfinex to develop and launch the first Ethereum-based Tether.

The ERC20 Tether will have lower network transactions fees and faster confirmation times (15-30 seconds) compared to Tether on the previous Omni network. Tether Limited believes that this upgrade will facilitate more efficient exchange arbitrage.

There are five primary steps in the typical lifecycle of a Tether token.

  1. A user deposits fiat currency into Tether Limited’s bank account.
  2. Tether Limited credits the user’s Tether account while Tether tokens are issued to the user and enter circulation. (Tether Limited issued the user some Tethers equal to the amount of fiat currency they deposited. For example:1k USD deposited = 1k Tether USD issued)
  3. Users transact with the Tethers. The users can transfer, exchange, and store Tethers through a peer-to-peer open-source, pseudo-anonymous platform.
  4. The user then deposits Tethers with Tether Limited to redeem their fiat currency.
  5. Tether Limited destroys the Tethers and sends fiat currency to the user’s bank account.

Since users are entrusting Tether Limited with their tokens (that are redeemable in their fiat currency), Tether Limited needs to prove that they have enough currency reserves to back up all the tokens in circulation. Tether Limited’s currency reserve closely resembles the Federal Reserve before 1971, when they backed their USD with gold.

Tether Limited ensures that the corresponding total amount of USD and EUR held in their reserves is shown by publishing their bank balance and undergoing periodic audits. Users can access this information from the company’s website on their transparency page which is regularly updated and available 24/7. The image below is Tether Limited’s current balances as of April 6, 2018.

Source: Tether.to

According to the company’s balance sheet table, total Assets represents how many assets Tether currently holds. Their assets are balanced out with their Liabilities; how many tokens are in circulation. Shareholder Equity is the amount of money they would have remaining if their assets were liquidated and they repaid remaining debts.

Total Assets – Total Liabilities = Shareholder equity

Tether Limited also agreed to have regular audits to verify their reserves. Following through on this promise, however, has proven to be a point of controversy.

Public information on Tether’s “regular audit” can be found on their homepage, you can access a PDF from an audit performed by “Friedman LLP accountant and advisors,” for a “Memorandum regarding consulting services performed September 28, 2017.”

Source: Tether’s Funds Update

While Tether Limited claims to be transparent with their currency reserves, the company’s last audit was conducted over seven months ago. According to CoinMarketCap, Tether had a market capitalization of $40 million at that time, which is significantly smaller than their $2.29 billion market cap today.

On page 4 of the audit report, there are also a lot of blacked out sections most likely due to privacy concerns. However, this does not provide the public complete transparency into their currency reserves.

Source: Tether’s Funds Update

On Tether Limited’s website under transparency update, the company also mentions that “these consulting services do not constitute an audit or attestation engagement,” alluding to the change in Tethers in circulation today compared to what it was in September 2017.

Source: Tether’s Transparency Update

In an email to Coindesk on January 27, 2018, Tether Limited also mentioned that they are no longer working with Friedman LLP, their previous auditor.

“We confirm that the relationship with Friedman is dissolved. Given the excruciatingly detailed procedures Friedman was undertaking for the relatively simple balance sheet of Tether, it became clear that an audit would be unattainable in a reasonable time frame. As Tether is the first company in the space to undergo this process and pursue this level of transparency, there is no precedent set to guide the process nor any benchmark against which to measure its success.”

According to an interview with Cointelegraph, American accountant and auditor Abhishek Shah, who had reviewed the memorandum released by Friedman LLP said that the document demonstrated that Tether did have the US dollar required in their currency reserves during that time. Shah however found it concerning that Tether terminated the audit due to the timeframe provided.

“The reason given by Tether was certainly not clear and precise, neither acceptable.”

Tether has not released an announcement after dropping their auditor. There is also no information available on their website that indicates who the new auditors are or when new audits will occur. Having the last audit over 7 months ago is just one of the many controversies shrouding Tether. There have been further controversies about Tether’s founders and their connection to the Bitfinex exchange.

While the potential benefits of Tether are clear, the cryptocurrency community on Reddit and Twitter have raised numerous concerns surrounding Tether’s approach — many of which revolve around security, accountability, and centralization. There are a few aspects concerning Tether’s history that you should take into account:

  • Massive Growth: Tether experienced high levels of growth from a $7 million market cap to $2.2 billion today.  Since Tether claims to be backed by fiat reserves, there was a lot of questions as to where the additional funding came from.
  • Bitfinex Exchange: Bitfinex is deeply linked to Tether Limited. Giancarlo Devansini is a director of both Tether and Bitfinex while Phil Potter is a director of Tether and chief strategy officer at Bitfinex. Some have called this a liability.
  • Bitfinex and Tether were hacked within an 18 month period: In August 2016, 120,000 BTC was stolen from Bitfinex however, since the 2016 hack, Bitfinex has not published an official audit. While they mentioned following the hack that Bitfinex was “in the process of engaging Ledger Labs to perform an audit of our balance sheet,” they soon announced later in a blog post that Ledger Labs does not do audits. In addition to this hack, in November 2017, $31 million in Tether dollars was hacked from Bitfinex. Following the hack, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission subpoenaed Bitfinex and Tether on December 6, 2017. The CFTC has, however, not taken any further action.
  • Problems with regulators and auditors: Bitfinex also has ongoing problems with international regulators and auditors. They’ve had challenges with their banks. Tether’s historic auditors are also no longer involved with the company

The Tether token can be extremely useful as an alternative to fiat currencies.

  • Low Fees: Tether has incredibly low fees when compared to alternative options. Once the Tether token is in a Tether.to wallet, there are no fees to transfer. These fees, however, may change if you are on an exchange.

Source: Tether’s Fees

  • Ethereum Blockchain: Tether exists on the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC20 token. The Ethereum Blockchain is a well developed and tested blockchain that is open sourced and decentralized.
  • Easy for non-technical users: Tether’s one-to-one backing makes it simple for non-technical users to understand.
  • Does not face significant price volatility: Tether’s currency reserves ensure that one Tether will always equal one USD
  • No pricing or liquidity constraints: Users can choose to buy or sell as many or as little Tether tokens at whichever pace they choose without liquidity concerns
  • Easy integration: The Tether token can be integrated with merchants, exchanges, and wallets like Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.
  • Strong industry supporters and partners: Tether has a group of industry supporters including Poloniex, ShapeShift, Kraken, Bittrex, and HitBTC.

Beyond these advantages, Tether has three key beneficiaries from their token. These include exchanges, individuals, and merchants.

For Exchanges:

With the Tether token, exchanges can begin accepting crypto-fiats as a deposit/withdrawal/storage method rather than using a traditional bank or payment provider, allowing users to move fiat in and out of exchanges more freely, quickly, and cheaply. Exchanges can then outsource fiat custodial risk to Tether Limited and add other Tethered fiat currencies as trading pairs to the platform. By using the Tether token, exchanges are exposed to less risk than continually holding fiat on exchanges.

For Individuals:

The Tether token can help individuals transact in fiat value, pseudo-anonymously without any intermediaries or middlemen. Users can cold store fiat value and avoid the risk of storing fiat currency on exchanges by moving cryptocurrency-fiat instead. Individuals can also avoid opening a fiat bank account to store fiat value.

For Merchants:

The Tether token can help merchants price goods in fiat currency rather than Bitcoin (so there are no moving conversion rates), prevent chargebacks, reduce fees, and gain greater privacy.

On Tether Limited’s Whitepaper, the company acknowledges many implementation weaknesses.

These include being bankrupt, banks that are currently backing Tether Limited freezing or confiscating Tether Limited Funds, the banks working with Tether Limited going insolvent, and Tether Limited absconding with their reserve assets. Tether Limited, however, mentions that cryptocurrency exchanges also face these problems as well.

Other disadvantages of the Tether token include:

  • Unclear Audits: Tether’s most recent audit was in September 2017. While the company has released many updates on their website, they have not mentioned anything concerning new auditors or when new audits will take place. Tether has always promised a full public audit but has never managed to produce one. There is also no full professional public audit of the currency reserve.
  • Deanonymization to purchase and sell Tether: While users can deposit and withdraw Tether anonymously, any purchasing and selling for fiat money on Tether website requires confirmation and verification of accounts.
  • Centralized, permissioned, and trust dependent: While Tether claims to be decentralized, Tether Limited and their currency reserves are completely centralized. The entire Tether system is dependent on Tether Limited’s capability and willingness to maintain the currency peg. 
  • Dependent on good financial relationships and legal authorities: Tether is heavily reliant on the banks that they work with as well as legal institutions.

Tether Limited’s latest general update was in September 2017. The company is unfortunately not very active on Twitter and other social media websites.

Banking

Tether is working with “other payment avenues and channels, including third-party payment processors and banking relationships in countries with friendlier correspondent banking connections.” The news comes after their primary banks in Taiwan were being blocked by US correspondent banks. They have also opened an escrow-based relationship with a US based company to service qualified corporate customers.

New Tether Currencies

Tether Limited is looking into offering additional currency options. They currently have Tether-backed USD (USDT) and Tether-backed EUR (EURT). Tether Limited is looking to issue a Tether-backed Japanese Yen JPY, and a Tether-backed Great Britain Pound GBP next.

Tether on Trezor

Tether Limited’s Omni Layer team was reported to be working with TREZOR, a cryptocurrency hardware wallet.

Tether on Lightning

Tether announced an “initial discovery and integration discussion” with the Lightning team for “low-cost, instant transactions of Tether currencies on the Lightning network.”

Auditors

Tether openly stated that they are “aware of online discussions about Tether’s lack of publicly available audits. They’ve released previous versions for the community from December 31 2016, January 31 2017, February 28 2017, and March 31 2017

Buying Tether (USDT) from your bank account often requires a 2-step process. The most common and recommended approach is to buy Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH) from an exchange that accepts deposits from a debit/credit card or bank account. Most exchanges like Coinbase allow you to buy BTC or ETH.

Afterwards, you need to transfer your recently purchased cryptocurrencies to a marketplace that sells Tether (USDT) in exchange for BTC or ETH. There are many supporting exchanges that support Tether (USDT). Examples include Binance, Bittrex, and Bitfinex.

Tether Digital Wallets

You can hold Tether in any hot wallet or cryptocurrency exchange that offers Tether (USDT) including Binance, Bittrex, Kraken, and Poloniex.

While Tether.to previously hosted a local wallet, as of December 19, 2017, the company has limited wallet services as they are in the process of developing and building a new platform.

As mentioned on their website update:

“We will be slowly phasing out and discontinuing the current wallet services and all old addresses. To prevent against possible loss of funds, users should not attempt to deposit any funds to their old wallet or deposit addresses. Additionally while the new system is being built, we will be disabling new signups on the platform.”

Tether’s $2.2 billion market capitalization shows that there is significant demand in the cryptocurrency market for fiat-backed solutions. A stablecoin like Tether has many potential benefits, but it’s important to consider whether Tether’s approach is feasible and realistic.

At this point, there is no clear evidence to support either case. As with many other cryptocurrency tokens, Tether is still in its early stages. It remains to be seen whether Tether Limited can realize the full potential of its product. For now, Tether offers the advantages of a cryptocurrency with the stability of a traditional fiat, but the Tether token also exposes you to the risks in both systems as well.

Source: https://unhashed.com/cryptocurrency-coin-guides/what-is-tether-usdt/

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What Coinbase Going Public Could Do For Crypto

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Messari Values Coinbase At Nearly $30 Billion As The Bitcoin Exchange Prepares To Officially Go Public

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Coinbase, the biggest US-based cryptocurrency exchange has disclosed its detailed plan for the upcoming direct listing on the stock market by Nasqad. Coinbase submitted an S-1 report to the US SEC outlining key information such as revenue and ownership structure for investors to carry out due diligence on the company.

According to the document, Coinbase has 43 million verified users and an average of 2.8 million transactions per month. In 2020, the company returned a net income of $322 million from total revenue of $3.4 billion, with transaction fees constituting 96% of the net revenue.

Coinbase which makes most of its profit from bitcoin and Ethereum transactions, also saw a 56% increment on its $1.1 billion direct revenue for 2020 compared to $482 million in 2019.

The company incurred a total of $880 million in expenses for 2020, most of which went to sales, general administrative expenses, and research and development. Transaction reversal costs miners fees, staking fees, and verification expenses constituted $135 million of the total expenses,

Coinbase also made $533 million in 2019, against $579 million in operational and development costs, leading to losses totaling $46 million.

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Coinbase to Usher Crypto’s Real Mainstream Adoption

The report indicates that much of the revenue for 2020 was generated from institutional investors’ activity in the crypto market but with higher retail activity in Q4 2020 than in previous quarters.

Coinbase’s debut as the first publicly listed crypto-exchange in the US is estimated to be one of 2021’s largest new listings of the tech industry. This will have a huge positive impact on the crypto market investors and blockchain technology backers.

According to the crypto trader and analyst Rekt Capital, the public listing will officially open up cryptocurrencies to the public.

“Coinbase going public is another way of saying crypto is going public.”

Coinbase Becomes Decentralized

The update comes a month after Coinbase chose Nasdaq as its direct listing avenue on February 1, following a secondary Coinbase stock launch by Nasdaq Private Market on January 25.

Now that Coinbase has moved to a remote-first environment without headquarters in any city, the company is referring to itself as a decentralized company. Up to 95% of Coinbase employees have the option to work at home, in a post-office world setting, or a mix of both.

“since we’ve made the decision to go remote-first we’ve decentralized ourselves; even after people can safely return to offices, the executive team has no plans to be “in-office” on a regular basis,  and none of them currently live in San Francisco.”


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The views expressed in the article are wholly those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, ZyCrypto. This article is not meant to give financial advice. Please carry out your own research before investing in any of the various cryptocurrencies available.

Source: https://zycrypto.com/what-coinbase-going-public-could-do-for-crypto/

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3 types of bitcoin investors that ‘should be concerning to central banks’

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With 106 million global crypto users as of January 2021 and a crypto population that has now surpassed 100 million, a financial expert noted that central banks must now be wary of certain crypto investors. In a new seminar held by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, part-time professor, Mohamed El-Erian, who is also Chief Economic Adviser at Allianz said that Central Banks should be careful about three specific groups of Bitcoin investors. 

He explained that while the first group of people is investing for positive reasons, the second is motivated by negative factors to adopt Bitcoin. The positive investors “truly believe Bitcoins will become money ”or “a currency as opposed to a commodity.” 

However, El-Erian cautioned that central bank authorities must keep watch on those “being pushed out of everything else and pushed into Bitcoin”, forming the second group that the expert earlier mentioned. 

They look to Bitcoin in order to protect themselves from government investment options, which some investors believe has been “artificially jacked up.” Interestingly, a recent survey found that people aged over 55 opted for Bitcoin due to a fear of currency devaluation – as central banks have historically printed more money to boost economies. The expert said that such people are forced to invest in the asset because “they don’t know how else to mitigate risk.” 

Do you really want to invest in a government bond whose price has been? So ‘let’s diversify, let’s put 2% into Bitcoins.’

El-Erian further categorized “speculators” as the third type of investors, who face profits and losses albeit “in a single day.” According to him, all three types of investors “should be concerning to central banks.”

When it’s trading above $50,000, all three messages are problematic for central banks. So, we are going to see central banks look increasingly at cryptocurrencies as something they should be involved in, and not just stand on the sidelines.


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Source: https://ambcrypto.com/3-types-of-bitcoin-investors-that-should-be-concerning-to-central-banks

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Exchange listings and NFT boom back Enjin’s (ENJ) 52% rally to a new high

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Non-fungible tokens (NFT) are rapidly becoming a focal point of the cryptocurrency market as evidenced by stories of millions of dollars being raised in minutes for one-of-a-kind tokenized art pieces and rare collectibles that traders rush to get their hands on. 

One project that has been benefiting greatly from the resurgence of NFTs is Enjin Coin (ENJ), which broke out to a new all-time high of $0.67 on Feb. 25 following its listing on the Crypto.com exchange as well as the launch of spot and perpetual futures trading on FTX.

Data from Cointelegraph Markets and TradingView shows that ENJ rose 52% from a low of $0.438 on Feb. 24 to a new high of $0.67 before experiencing a pullback to its current price of $0.611.

ENJ/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

A scroll through the project’s Twitter feed details numerous recent partnerships and integrations that have helped fuel Enjin’s price rise.

Minecraft is one of the most notable integrations for the Enjin ecosystem and users are able to earn special NFTs that unlock secret games inside the video game series.

The platform has also benefited from joining forces with the growing ecosystem of the Binance Smart Chain (BSC), which has launched an NFT educational campaign that Enjin will be part of.

VORTECS™ data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro began to detect a bullish outlook for ENJ on Feb. 24, several hours before today’s price rise.

The VORTECS™ score, exclusive to Cointelegraph, is an algorithmic comparison of the historic and current market conditions derived from a combination of data points including market sentiment, trading volume, recent price movements and Twitter activity.

VORTECS™ Score (green) vs. ENJ price. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro

As seen on the chart above, the VORTECS™ score for ENJ reached a high of 70 on Feb. 24, shortly before the price began to spike to a new all-time high on Feb. 25.

The growing popularity of the NFT space, along with numerous big-name partnerships has Enjin well-positioned as the current bull market cycle progresses into 2021.

Its recent integration with the BSC provides a way to escape high fees on the Ethereum (ETH) network and could bring a new wave of activity to the Enjin ecosystem.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/exchange-listings-and-nft-boom-back-enjin-s-enj-52-rally-to-a-new-high

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