In the last few days, there is a massive drop in the number of Tether (USDT) stablecoins in circulation. This is because the Bitfinex exchange is sending a massive quantity of USDT tokens back to Tether treasury. In the last one month, the fall in Tether’s market cap is on a tailspin with now just over $2 billion.
Both Tether Ltd. and Bitfinex share the same management and owners. Previously, there have been several doubts raised over their functioning of these two companies. Tether has been accused of sourcing USDT tokens to Bitfinex without actually backing them with physical USD. The two companies have, however, denied these rumors of foul play several times.
It is seen that in the last few days, a wallet address linked to Bitfinex has transferred 630 million USDT to an address said to be of the Tether treasury. This shows that a massive quantity of USDT is out of circulation from the crypto market.
Reports About Tether’s Exit Emerge
There is no clear reason to why Bitfinex is offloading its USDT holdings. However, some reports suggest that Tether is planning to move out of stablecoin business while buying back its own tokens in profit. These claims were put forward by Su Zhu, CEO of the Singapore-based fund manager Three Arrows Capital and a researcher under the name “Hasu”, in a recent post.
The Tether’s whitepaper notes that USDT token holders can “redeem” them for U.S. Dollars in 1:1 ratio. However, some token holders have even complained that they were not able to withdraw fiat currency from the company. Zhu and Hasu noted that Tether is rather redeeming the token with itself while buying them out at a discounted rate in the market while converting the U.S. Dollar collateral from a liability to an asset.
In a private message to CoinDesk, Hasu said:
“Anyone could make money by arbitraging the USDT spread (the price at which it trades for on exchanges)”. He further added that “it would make sense that Tether itself would be participating in these buybacks.”
However, it is worth noting that Tether has not destroyed the withdrawn tokens as Tether has claimed in the whitepaper.
More Fingers Pointing to Tether’s Suspicious Play
An ardent Bitfinex and Tether critic Cas Piancey told CoinDesk that Hasu isn’t the only one to expose Tether’s strategy. “I’ve had others pose that to me as well,” he said.
However, Piancey disagrees to Hasu assertion that “there is nothing shady” about Tether buying its own tokens at discount. Piancey said that if the company is doing so, it means “Tether is only solvent through fraud.” Johns Hopkins University’s cryptography professor, Matthew Green, echoes a similar sentiment and views.
He wrote: “by continuing (perhaps deliberately) to exhibit behaviors that increase customers’ doubts, Tether can make a neat profit at their customers’ expense.”