The concept of ‘stablecoin’ appears to be treading the fine line between virtual and fiat. Investors can enjoy the benefits of ubiquity and universality of payments, two core concepts of the cryptocurrency world, while still standing in firm opposition of them by being tethered to a sovereign currency.
Stablecoins like Tether [USDT], USDCoin [USDC], Paxos Standard [PAX], TrueUSD [TUSD], and the Gemini Dollar [GUSD] are the most notable fiat-pegged ‘cryptocurrencies’ in the market, steadily growing in valuation, especially during the crypto-winter.
Despite the controversies surrounding the tenth largest virtual currency in the market, Tether has seen its valuation surge since 2017. With a market cap of under $500 million prior to the December 2017 bull run, in under a year, the coin shot up to $2.84 billion by October of the following year.
A slew of debates around the actual one-for-one backing of USDT with a corresponding dollar value had led many to abandon the stablecoin. This led to the coin’s market cap dropping by 40 percent in a matter of weeks. Coupled with the apex of the winter, by the penultimate month of 2018, the stablecoin dropped to $1.67 billion.
Regardless of Tether’s popularity within the market, the growing dominance of stablecoins is not something that should be ignored. Crypto-mainstays like the Winklevoss twins’ Gemini exchange, Coinbase and Circle have released their own stablecoin. At press time, USDC Coin, Paxos Standard and the Gemini Dollar amass $260.93 million, $107.39 million, $201.95 million and $66.65 million in valuation, respectively.
Given this increasing popularity of the fiat-pegged cryptocurrency, the collective market cap amassed in such a short time makes many question the intent of stablecoin investors. Some have even suggested that if the market cap of the stablecoin market was to flow into the decentralized currency, the December 2017 high could be revisited.
Mati Greenspan, the senior market analyst at eToro, hinted that this “flow” to Bitcoin and the other altcoins could come up to approximately $3 billion. Although this value injection would be a fraction of what the collective market saw over the past week alone, a stablecoin exodus could lead to a consolidation of belief within the decentralized currency world.
The eToro analyst’s tweet read:
“Nearly $3 billion ready to flow into BTC and alts.”
It should be noted that Greenspan’s tweet was in reply to speculation made by Jonathan Habicht, the founder of Blockfyre, a cryptocurrency investments platform. Habicht dwelled on the stablecoin market in comparison to its crypto-brethren. Despite the gulf of valuation between the two, their difference, or lack thereof, is notable and an “interesting metric”.
Habicht speculated that the funds “parked” in stablecoins, if dispersed to the cryptocurrency market, the all-time-high [ATH] could be a reality once again. He described the stablecoin investors as the “people who never actually left #crypto”.
His tweet in full read:
“I keep hearing that we need new money to get back to ATH, but think about all the money parked in Tether and other stable coins. These are people who never actually left #crypto.
Also an interesting metric to watch.”
Stablecoin investors are those that are reliant on the “stable” nature of fiat currency, while still staying within the cryptocurrency paradigm. During the crypto-winter, many investors pulled their funds out of decentralized currencies and reinvested it into stablecoins, fearing another bearish onslaught. Hence, Habicht’s claims can be attested.
These investors are indeed flirting the line between the fiat-pegged stablecoin market, masked in their ‘crypto’ technology, while still being fearful of the decentralized currency realm. If the tide does turn in favor of the cryptocurrency, in its purest form, Greenspan’s prediction of a $3 billion flow could be imminent.
Interestingly, one of the catalysts of the 2017 bull run backs the stablecoin approach. Terry Duffy, the chairman at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange [CME], now operating unrivaled in the Bitcoin Futures market, stated recently that cryptocurrencies backed by fiat are likely to find minimal opposition by regulatory authorities.