In some of the latest crypto news, Tether stablecoin has paid out $10 billion in withdrawals since the start of the crypto crash in early May. The multibillion-dollar stablecoin acts as the largest bank in the cryptocurrency market.
The pace of withdrawals is a clear indication that the cryptocurrency coin is effectively handling a slow-motion bank run, as the crypto depositors move their cash to more regulated stablecoins.
Public blockchain records indicate that $1 billion worth of tether was redeemed just after midnight on Saturday. As part of the withdrawal process, the cryptocurrency was given back to the company and destroyed.
$1.5 billion worth of tether had been withdrawn similarly three days earlier. The amount withdrawn is now causing minor fluctuations in the stablecoin’s peg to the U.S dollar, about 1/8 of all company reserves.
This redemption comes after Tether released information about its audited accounts to the public, which revealed that by late March, they had backed user deposits in a mixture of bonds in other private companies, US Treasury bills, and around $5 billion in miscellaneous “other investments” such as other cryptocurrency enterprises.
However, some cryptocurrency investors have raised questions on whether the accounts are as reassuring to depositors as they seem to be. If Tether’s cryptocurrency investments fell in value during the crypto crash, then it might have struggled to meet the customer deposits, a fintech analyst argued.
Just like other stablecoins, the tether cryptocurrency should always be worth a fixed amount, which is 1 US dollar. Tether achieves this by keeping a large reserve of stable assets. Retail investors are allowed to buy or sell tether on cryptocurrency exchanges such as Coinbase and CoinMarketCap, while institutional investors can simply pay money to Tether to get newly minted tokens, and are allowed to return the tokens to Tether in exchange for cash.
Initially, Tether stated that their reserves were backed 1-to-1 with US dollars. However, an investigation conducted by the New York attorney general revealed that it was not always the case and Tether admitted that the cryptocurrency was backed by Tether’s Reserves. It then agreed to publish a quarterly statement detailing what those reserves were.
The latest statement released before the crypto crash shows Tether storing about $20 billion in commercial paper, $7 billion in money market funds, and almost $40 billion in US treasury bills, and all are stable investments. Tether has also stored another $7 billion in “corporate bonds, funds, and precious metals,” and other investments like digital tokens. Although this is a small portion of Tether’s Reserves, it opens Tether to the risk of breaking its promise of being “fully backed” in case of a large market fluctuation.
According to Patrick McKenzie, a fintech commentator at Stripe Payments Company, this could have already happened. Tether’s company accounts show that it has $162 more in reserves than the total outstanding tokens issued so far, McKenzie stated. However, just to give an example of public investment from Tether, some of the digital tokens held by the company are those of Celsius, a cryptocurrency investment platform.
“Tether has invested $62.8m of the reserves into Celsius network … Celsius is in freefall due to the current market dislocation; the value of their native token is down by over 86%,” said McKenzie.
“Clearly, that investment has suffered more than $20m in impairment. Impairment of 1% of one line item on their balance sheet ate more than 10% of their equity,” he added.
Paolo Ardoino, Tether’s chief technology officer, said this in a statement:
“Tether has maintained its stability through multiple black swan events and highly volatile market conditions and, even in its darkest days, Tether has never once failed to honor a redemption request from any of its verified customers.
“This latest attestation further highlights that tether is fully backed and that the composition of its reserves is strong, conservative, and liquid.”