(cryptocurrency)From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|White paper||Tether White Paper.pdf|
|Block explorer||Omniexplorer.info, Etherscan.io|
Tether is a controversial cryptocurrency with tokens issued by Tether Limited. It formerly claimed that each token was backed by one United States dollar, but on 14 March 2019 changed the backing to include loans to affiliate companies. The Bitfinex exchange was accused by the New York Attorney General of using Tether's funds to cover up $850 million in funds missing since mid-2018.
Tether is called a stablecoin because it was originally designed to always be worth $1.00, maintaining $1.00 in reserves for each tether issued. Nevertheless, Tether Limited states that owners of tethers have no contractual right, other legal claims, or guarantee that tethers will be redeemed or exchanged for dollars. On 30 April 2019 Tether Limited's lawyer claimed that each tether was backed by only $0.74 in cash and cash equivalents.
Tether Limited and the tether cryptocurrency are controversial because of the company's failure to provide a promised audit showing adequate reserves backing tether, its alleged role in manipulating the price of bitcoin, the unclear relationship with the Bitfinex exchange, and the company's apparent lack of a long-term banking relationship. Author David Gerard was quoted by the Wall Street Journal saying that Tether "is sort of the central bank of crypto trading ... [yet] they don't conduct themselves like you'd expect a responsible, sensible financial institution to do." Tether's price decreased to lows of $0.90 on 15 October 2018 on speculation that investors are losing faith in the token. On 20 November 2018, Bloomberg reported that U.S. federal prosecutors are investigating whether Tether was used to manipulate the price of bitcoin. In 2019, Tether surpassed Bitcoin in trading volume with the highest daily and monthly trading volume of any cryptocurrency on the market.
Beginning with a whitepaper published online in January 2012, J.R. Willett described the possibility of building new currencies on top of the Bitcoin Protocol. Willett went on to help implement this idea in the cryptocurrency Mastercoin, which had an associated Mastercoin Foundation (later renamed the Omni Foundation) to promote the use of this new "second layer". The Mastercoin protocol would become the technological foundation of the Tether cryptocurrency, and one of the original members of Mastercoin Foundation, Brock Pierce, would become a co-founder of Tether. Another Tether founder, Craig Sellars, was the CTO of the Mastercoin Foundation.
The precursor to Tether, originally named "Realcoin", was announced in July 2014 by co-founders Brock Pierce, Reeve Collins, and Craig Sellars as a Santa Monica based startup. The first tokens were issued on 6 October 2014, on the Bitcoin blockchain. This was done by using the Omni Layer Protocol. On 20 November 2014, Tether CEO Reeve Collins announced the project was being renamed to "Tether". The company also announced it was entering private beta, which supported a "Tether+ token" for three currencies: USTether (US+) for United States dollars, EuroTether (EU+) for euros and YenTether (JP+) for Japanese yen. Tether said "Every Tether+ token is backed 100% by its original currency, and can be redeemed at any time with no exposure to exchange risk." The company's website states that it is incorporated in Hong Kong with offices in Switzerland, without giving details.
In January 2015, the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex enabled trading of Tether on their platform. While representatives from Tether and Bitfinex say that the two are separate, the Paradise Papers leaks in November 2017 named Bitfinex officials Philip Potter and Giancarlo Devasini as responsible for setting up Tether Holdings Limited in the British Virgin Islands in 2014. A spokesperson for Bitfinex and Tether has said that the CEO of both firms is Jan Ludovicus van der Velde. According to Tether's website, the Hong Kong-based Tether Limited is a fully owned subsidiary of Tether Holdings Limited. Bitfinex is one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges by volume in the world.
For a while, Tether was processing US dollar transactions through Taiwanese banks which, in turn, sent the money through the bank Wells Fargo to allow the funds to move outside Taiwan. Tether announced that on 18 April 2017, these international transfers had been blocked. Along with Bitfinex, Tether filed suit against Wells Fargo in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit was withdrawn a week later.
In June 2017, the Omni foundation and Charlie Lee announced that Tether would soon be issued on the Omni layer of Litecoin. In September 2017, Tether announced they would be launching additional ERC-20 tokens for United States dollars and euros on the Ethereum blockchain. Tether later confirmed the ethereum tokens were issued. Currently, there are a total of four distinct Tether tokens: United States dollar tether on Bitcoin's Omni layer, euro tether on Bitcoin's Omni layer, United States dollar tether as an ERC-20 token, and euro tether as an ERC-20 token.
From January 2017 to September 2018, the amount of tethers outstanding grew from about $10 million to about $2.8 billion. In early 2018 Tether accounted for about 10% of the trading volume of bitcoin, but during the summer of 2018 it accounted for up to 80% of bitcoin volume. Research suggests that a price manipulation scheme involving tether accounted for about half of the price increase in bitcoin in late 2017. More than $500 million Tethers were issued in August 2018.
In April 2019 New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a suit accusing Bitfinex of using Tether's reserves to cover up a loss of $850 million. Bitfinex had been unable to obtain a normal banking relationship, according to the lawsuit, so it deposited over $1 billion with a Panamanian payment processor known as Crypto Capital Corp. The funds were allegedly co-mingled corporate and client deposits and no contract was ever signed with Crypto Capital. James alleged that in 2018 Bitfinex and Tether knew or suspected that Crypto Capital had absconded with the money, but that their investors were never informed of the loss.
Reggie Fowler, who is alleged to have connections with Crypto Capital, was indicted on 30 April 2019, for running an unlicensed money transmitting business for virtual currency traders. He is believed to have failed to return about $850 million to an unnamed client. Investigators also seized $14,000 in counterfeit currency from his office.
Tether runs on Ethereum and has been linked to Ethereum network congestion.