Tether (cryptocurrency)

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Tether is a cryptocurrency token claimed by its creators to be backed by one dollar for each token issued. This claim is widely doubted and Tether Limited has not issued a promised audit backing the claim. [3] [4] [6] Subpoenas from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission were sent to Tether on December 6, 2017. [7]

A spokesperson for Bitfinex and Tether has said that the CEO of both firms is Jan Ludovicus van der Velde. [8] [7]

Tether was issued on the Bitcoin blockchain through the Omni Layer Protocol. [10] [12] Tether claims that each unit of Tether is backed by one United States dollar held in reserve by Tether Limited, [10] and may be redeemed through the Tether Platform. [14] The primary objective is to facilitate transactions between cryptocurrency exchanges with a rate fixed to the United States dollar [14] allowing traders to take advantage of high speed arbitrage opportunities without resorting to slow bank wires. As of February 2018, Tether is ranked around the 15th highest market cap cryptocurrency in the world, with a market cap around $2 billion United States dollars as of 5 February 2018. [3]

Tether tokens are issued by Tether Limited. [6]

Background

Tether was originally named "Realcoin", and renamed to "Tether" in 2014. [3] The company's website claims that it is incorporated in Hong Kong with offices in Switzerland, without giving details. [3] [3] Tether is closely connected with Bitfinex, the largest Bitcoin exchange (by volume) in the world. [3]

Security and liquidity

The Tether model is to hold all United States Dollars in reserve so that it can meet customer withdrawals upon demand. [24] Tether purports to make reserve account holdings transparent via external audit; however, currently no such audits exist. [26] In January 2018 Tether announced that they no longer had a relationship with their auditor. [3]

About $31 million of USDT tokens were stolen from Tether in November 2017. [30] In response to the theft, Tether suspended trading, and stated it would roll out new software to implement an emergency "hard fork" in order to render untradable all of the tokens that Tether identified as stolen in the heist. [3] Tether has stated that as of 19 December 2017, it has re-enabled limited wallet services and has begun processing the backlog of pending trades. [34]

Questions about dollar reserves

A blockchain critic [35] [36] has raised questions about the relationship between Bitfinex and Tether, [38] [30] [40] accusing Bitfinex of creating "magic Tethers out of thin air". In September 2017, Tether published a memorandum from a public accounting firm that they then claimed showed that tethers were fully backed by US dollars [41]; however, according to the New York Times, independent attorney Lewis Cohen stated the document, because of the careful way it was phrased, does not prove that the Tether coins are backed by dollars". [38] The documents also fail to ascertain whether the balances in question are otherwise encumbered." [24]. The accounting firm specifically stated that

This information is intended solely to assist the management of Tether Limited ... and is not intended to be, and should not be, used or relied upon by any other party. [41]

Exchange rate regime

Tether is pegged to the United States dollar [43] – it operates as a currency board, holding United States dollar in reserve and issuing a cryptocurrency token for each reserve dollar. [44] [46] The exchange rate is 1 Tether (USD₮) to 1 United States dollar (USD$). [14] [48] Tether can be stored as value, spent as a medium of exchange [50] and has a fixed unit of account like a traditional fiat currency. [14]

Tether is not a legal tender currency or a financial instrument. [52] The ownership of Tether has no contractual rights, other legal claims, or guarantees against losses. [14]

Tether Limited is not a bank and is not required to, and does not, hold its reserves at the Federal Reserve. Tether tokens are not legal tender currency and are not covered by deposit insurance.

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