USDT is a stablecoin and is also known as Tether. This type of token is used to hold value when markets collapse, as well as for convenience as a means of payment in trading. The value of a stablecoin is fixed in most cases and therefore you can very easily exchange your crypto currency for a stablecoin, after which you can purchase cryptocurrencies again with Tether.
When transacting in crypto, a coin linked to the dollar or other stable currencies is darn handy. It's no coincidence that Tether often sells higher volumes per day than Bitcoin, the crypto currency with the highest market cap. You can think of Stablecoins as the oil in the machine, making sure everything runs smoothly.
If you invested in Ethereum with your Bitcoin, you wouldn't yet know what it would be worth next week. If you buy Tether for it, you do know, so that's the whole idea. That's why USDT has become a very popular currency since its inception.
Tether now has many variants, including the Tether Euro, Tether Gold and a number of other widely used fiat currencies.
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This story began in July 2014, when Realcoin hit the market. In fact, this coin only existed for a short time. The idea of Realcoin was that it would be backed 1-to-1 by a U.S. dollar in the bank and thus would be stable in value.
Later that year, Reeve Collins, the CEO of this crypto currency at the time, discussed the reason for changing their name to Tether. He said they were not an altcoin and did not have their own blockchain technology. They were a service, a token that represented the value of a dollar and was not volatile. So they needed another name, a crypto currency without the terminology coin.
Craig Sellars and Brock Pierce were the co-founders of this company.
So in the fall of 2014, they changed their name to Tether and announced their partnership with Bitfinex, a cryptocurrency exchange from 2012.On top of Bitcoin, a protocol had been built called Omni, which simplified the coinage of stablecoins collateralized by the dollar. They wanted to take advantage of this.
On Sept. 5, 2014, the company Tether Holdings Limited was founded by the duo of Phil Potter (CSO Bitfinex at the time) and Giancarlo Devasini (CFO Bitfinex). There was quite a controversy over this construction, with the owners of the company having strong ties to an exchange. Oct. 6, 2014, the first Tether tokens were tokenized. At this time, it turned out that both companies were owned by the exact same people, although they denied it in no uncertain terms. In the 2017 Paradise Papers, it was revealed that this was also the case, although they claimed that it is Jan Ludovicus van der Velde who is CEO of both companies.
Bitfinex did have a few problems. For example, in 2015 they were hacked for 1,500 Bitcoins. In 2016, there was a really serious hack where $72 million worth of Bitcoin was stolen. In 2017, Tether was hacked again, after which they committed a hard fork on Omni, rendering the stolen crypto coins worthless. That same year, fiat deposits on Bitfinex were halted after they got into a lawsuit with Wells Fargo, their correspondent bank.
In response, Taiwanese banks stopped providing services to the exchange Bitfinex. Bitfinex went looking for a new bank and "forgot" to tell clients which one it was. Bitfinex ran afoul of the banking industry, which was very bad for their reputation. For Tether, of course, none of this was great news either. Their white paper followed in 2018. In 2019, Bitfinex was accused of covering losses with Tether. Despite all this, Bitfinex gets a ten for reliability from both CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap, and we consider it unlikely that these market researchers are in the same hands.
So it is pretty clear that there is a lot going on with this relationship of Bitfinex with the company behind Tether. A veil of distrust and corruption hangs over this entanglement. In 2018, this distrust came to a head. People no longer trusted that Tether Holdings Limited actually had a dollar in a bank for every Tether, also due to the fact that USDT is not on a blockchain and thus the ledger cannot be viewed. They did not disclose at the time and due to FUD and gossip, the value suddenly started to drop. In a short time, this "stablecoin" even dropped to 85 US cents, then quickly rebounded to 97 US cents and gradually returned to its old familiar value of almost exactly $1. This may have had to do with the fact that they retracted their earlier claims that every Tether was redeemable for a dollar. Furthermore, they appeared to admit that only 74% was held in USD and another part by US government bonds, among others.
They clearly learned from this that they needed to be more open and therefore have regular audits done. Yet these audits have never come up with a unified and verifiable claim that Tether is secured 1-to-1 by real fiat dollars. So, in other words, it may very well be that they are instead printing USDT tokens in the manner of banks: out of thin air.
Nevermind that it is currently the most widely used stablecoin to trade with and runs huge volumes. Apparently there is enough confidence in the USDT currency to trade in value even more than Bitcoin! Although it is true that other stablecoins are getting a bigger and bigger share of the pie, such as USD Coin and Binance USD.
So USDT or Tether, according to Tether Operations Limited, their current name, is fully covered by reserves, which they publish daily. If you look at CoinGecko to see how many are in circulation and compare that to what they have on their website, they do indeed seem to have more in reserve than there is Tether on the market. To what extent the numbers they give on their site are accurate is questionable given the above story. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt. They do mention in a single sentence that most Tethers are held in traditional currencies and cash, but that there are also other products in their coverage, such as loans by Tether to third parties.
USDT already supports fiat money from the U.S., EU, UK, China, Brazil, Mexico and many other widely used currencies, including precious metals. USDT coins are useful for trading on all kinds of blockchains, the vast majority of which are on Tron and Ethereum. A much smaller portion "lives" on Solana, Omni, Tezos, Avalanche and a few more blockchains. So if you are sending Tether, you need to pay close attention to whether you are using the right network. New USDT tokens are tokenized when customers who have passed KYC registration buy USDT.
USDT coins are mainly used when buying crypto on exchanges, but also for other opportunities such as arbitrage or by traders selling products. Another very important function is keeping these currencies in your wallet until you can buy altcoins or Bitcoin for them at the right time. Without volatility, your wallets remain worth the same amount in a bear market. Therefore, it is best to keep your coins in a hardware wallet during these times, until the sweet time of the bull market arrives and the time for investing beckons again.
USDT can also be used in countries where their own fiat money is devaluing. If your savings are evaporating, it can be very wise to hold your money in USDT coins to keep your money reasonably stable in value. Transferring money to people in other countries is also much easier with USDT.
Surely the most important function of USDT remains that it is a stable currency linked to the dollar that allows you to make transactions in other crypto coins.