The latest reports reveal that just 318 Tether whales control over 80% of its circulating supply with each of them holding at least $1 million worth of USDT tokens making the market vulnerable to manipulation.

Although the crypto world is decentralized, it is quite concentrated than most people perhaps realize. In the case of Bitcoin, the whales own almost a fifth of its supply. However, Coin Metrics has discovered that unique identifiers, addresses, reveal that just around 318 entities control almost 80% of Tether.

Tether serves as a conduit for trading on most of the biggest crypto exchanges worldwide. Each of these addresses holds at least $1 million worth of Tether (USDT). After that report on Aug. 7, Nic Carter, the Coin Metrics co-founder additionally said that various USDT whales include major crypto exchanges like Bitfinex and Binance. Also, brokers that cater to Chinese investors who need to exchange Yuan and high-frequency traders make it to the list of these whales.

Tether’s Ups and Downs

Since its introduction in 2015, Tether has remained controversial. It was created to offer liquidity to exchanges since many concerns about illegal uses have made it challenging for exchanges to secure banking services. As we reported earlier, New York’s attorney general accused Tether’s mother companies of engaging in cover-ups to hide losses.

The attorney general also said that the companies co-mingled client and corporate funds to hide the alleged losses. Various founders and the largest exchanges have been referred to as the Tether Mafia on social media. In spite of Bitcoin appearing more evenly distributed among most of its user base, the USDT whales can swing the Bitcoin price on their own. In that context, John Griffin, the University of Texas at Austin finance professor, stated:

“The concentration of Tether suggests that control of Tether is in the hands of a few central players who can swing Bitcoin prices, and have a vested interest in doing so […] It also suggests that many exchange players have a vested interest in keeping the Tether game going.”

This ownership concentration increases the risk levels in the volatile crypto market. Reports from Coin Metrics reveal that USDT was used in 40% and 80% of all transactions on Binance and Huobi, respectively.

According to that report, Griffin allegedly connected USDT to market manipulation and its rally to an all-time high in 2017. The co-founder of market tracker TokenAnalyst, Sid Shekhar, explained further. He said that there are market issues related to the volatility of the market. These issues appear whenever a large amount of USDT is introduced into the market.

USDT’s Growth Continues

USDT is now available on Bitfinex through another blockchain protocol for Bitcoin called the BlockStream’s Liquid Network sidechain. In the past, USDT has been run on the Omni Blockchain. Furthermore, Liquid now plans to make Liquid-based USDT available on several other crypto exchanges in the future. These exchanges include Sideshift AI, OKEx, RenrenBit, OKCoin, BtcTurk/BTCTrader, and BTSE.

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