USDT is the foremost stablecoin in the crypto world. Pegged one for one to the U.S. dollar, it is widely used as a vehicle for getting dollars in and out of crypto exchanges. Crypto enthusiasts will tell you that holding USDT (“Tethers”) is the same as holding dollars. But now, Tether, the issuer of USDT, has now admitted that Tethers are not 100% backed by actual dollars. The peg is no longer credible. And Tether itself has morphed into something all too familiar.
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2018/08/30: A smartphone displays the Tether market value on the stock exchange via The Crypto App. (Photo by Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)Getty
Here’s how Tether’s claim of 100% actual currency backing has changed during the coin’s existence. This is what their website originally said:
There has never been a “professional audit” of the reserves. After lots of people pointed this out, the wording on the website subtly changed:
Tether drops "professional audits" [email protected]
Lots of people questioned the “professional verifications”, too. So Tether simply removed all reference to them. It still retained the claim to 100% currency reserves, though:
Tether drops "professional verifications" [email protected]
But the rumors persisted. And now, it seems, they were justified. This is what Tether’s website now says:
Tether drops "100% currency reserves" [email protected]
So Tether does not have 100% traditional currency backing for its reserves. It has “cash equivalents,” which are presumably other cryptocurrencies (like pegging to a volatile asset is such a good way of ensuring stability). And some of its "reserves" are held in the form of loans that it has made to other parties. Tether has become an unregulated fractional reserve bank.
It’s a very risky fractional reserve bank, ...