Despite lackluster trade volume and price movements in the cryptocurrency market, Tether’s market cap is rising, nearing its all-time high of $82.9 billion. Tether, also known as USDT, is a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar, making its value more stable than other cryptocurrencies.
USDT’s Explosive Growth
The question remains: why is Tether’s market cap increasing despite the lack of strong movements in the cryptocurrency market?
According to the research firm Kaiko, one theory is that the imminent end of BUSD, another stablecoin, and Circle’s USDC March de-pegging event caused traders to rotate into USDT. However, data does not show a significant increase in USDT market share relative to other stablecoins in recent months.
Another possible reason for Tether’s market cap increase is Binance’s promotion of TUSD as an alternative to BUSD. This move may have caused traders to move away from BUSD and towards other stablecoins, including USDT.
On decentralized exchanges (DEXs), USDT accounts for just 20% of non-stablecoin swap volume, an increase since the start of the year, but not enough to explain the more than $15 billion increase in market cap over the same period.
While the March banking crisis saw a large rotation of capital into USDT, the actual usage of the stablecoin on both centralized and decentralized exchanges suggests that the increase in market cap is “inordinate”, according to Kaiko. Furthermore, one possible explanation for Tether’s climbing market cap could involve the Tron network. Most of all, USDT, or $46 billion worth, are issued on Tron, compared to just $36 billion on Ethereum.
Despite Tron’s minimal decentralized finance (DeFi) activity and the lack of support from major exchanges like Coinbase, offshore exchanges such as Binance and OKX possess the largest USDT balances on Tron. This suggests that market makers and whales prefer Tron for its low transaction fees.
In contrast to Tether’s market cap, USDC’s market cap correlates with trade volume. As USDC volume grows, the market cap increases similarly, and vice versa. USDT’s market cap, however, has little correlation with trade volume, which is questionable given that the primary use case for this stablecoin is trading.
Large Tether Movements Raise Questions About Market Stability
According to Whale Alert on Twitter, there have been several large movements of Tether’s stablecoin, USDT, in the cryptocurrency market in the past three hours. These movements suggest a significant transfer of funds, with implications for the broader market.
First, an unknown wallet transferred 50 million USDT, or $50 million, to Bitfinex, a popular cryptocurrency exchange. This was followed by Kraken, another leading exchange, transferring 60 million USDT, or $60 million, to Bitfinex. Lastly, Tether Treasury, the issuer of USDT, transferred 60 million USDT to Bitfinex. Additionally, 50 million USDT was transferred from JustLendDAO to an unknown wallet.
The movements of these large sums of money suggest that significant trading or investment activity may occur on Bitfinex, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges. These transfers may be related to a large purchase of cryptocurrency or a significant investment by a hedge fund or institutional investor.
Overall, the implications of these movements for the broader cryptocurrency market remain uncertain. However, given the size of the Tether transfers, it is possible that they could impact the market’s overall stability and could lead to a surge or decline in cryptocurrency prices.
Featured image from iStock, chart from TradingView.com