Tether: King of digital dollar-denominated asset

Stablecoins are used as quote currencies in cryptoasset trading pairs, far more than fiat currencies on most exchanges. Unsurprisingly, a large majority of stablecoin trading volume is dominated by Tether.

There are more USDT (Tether) quote pairs in our coverage (out of the exchanges in our sample) than all other stablecoin trading pairs combined.

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Data from coinmarketcap revealed that this most valuable stablecoin is trading at about $1, with a market capitalization of about $9.3 billion, and a daily trading volume of about $15 billion, at the time this report was drafted.

Tether (USDT), the first successful stablecoin and still by far the biggest, was launched in late 2014 by a group called Tether Limited. It introduced a relatively simple concept for creating a crypto asset that maintained a stable price.

For every USDT issued, the Tether Foundation kept $1 USD in reserve (at least in theory). This kept the USDT price stabilized around $1 since each unit of USDT could be redeemed for one of the US Dollars in the reserve.

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Quick fact: Tether is designed as a blockchain-based cryptocurrency whose digital coins in circulation are backed by the same value of traditional fiat currencies like the U.S dollar, Japanese Yen, or the Euro. It trades under the ticker symbol USDT.

In this sense, Tether was basically a digital wrapper for a dollar-denominated liability, starting off relatively slowly, with little activity in its first year.

However, when Bitcoin’s price began to rise in 2017, Tether started to take off. Its supply passed 1M for the first time in January 2016. By January 2017 it was a little less than 10M. By January 2018, as Bitcoin’s price was peaking at close to $20K, the Tether supply had grown to over 1.4B.

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