Tether Says It Will Buy Bitcoin for Stablecoin Reserves Using Realized Profits

The company, which issues the $82 billion USDT stablecoin, reported $1.48 billion of net profits in 2023 Q1 and revealed $1.5 billion in BTC holdings.

AccessTimeIconMay 17, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 17, 2023 at 5:33 p.m. UTC
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Stablecoin issuer Tether will regularly buy bitcoin (BTC) for its stablecoin reserves using a portion of its profits starting this month as part of a new investment strategy focused on the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, the firm announced on Wednesday.

Tether said it will allocate up to about 15% of the realized profits from investments – excluding any unrealized price appreciation of its reserve assets – to purchase BTC and will add the tokens to the reserve surplus.

The company will custody the BTC stash on its own, without using any third-party custodians, according to the statement.

The development comes after Tether, the company behind the largest stablecoin on the market, the $82 billion USDT, revealed last week that it holds $1.5 billion of BTC and $3.4 billion of gold among the assets that backs the value of USDT and its smaller stablecoins. Some 85% of the reserves are held in cash and cash-like assets such as U.S. Treasury bonds, according to its 2023 Q1 attestation.

Stablecoins, now a $131 billion asset class, have become a crucial building block of the cryptocurrency infrastructure, facilitating trading and transactions between government-issued fiat money and digital tokens by keeping their price anchored to an external asset, usually to the U.S. dollar.

BTC investments

The firm’s BTC purchase campaign aims to strengthen and diversify the stablecoin reserves, while capitalizing on its price appreciation as an investment, the press release said.

“Bitcoin has continually proven its resilience and has emerged as a long-term store of value with substantial growth potential,” Paolo Ardoino, chief technology officer of Tether, said in a statement. “Our investment in bitcoin is not only a way to enhance the performance of our portfolio, but it is also a method of aligning ourselves with a transformative technology.”

The company said it will exclusively utilize realized profits from its investment operations for buying BTC, disregarding unrealized capital gains. It means that the firm considers “only the tangible gains from its operations,” consisting of the difference between the purchase price and net proceeds from an asset sale or, in case of maturing assets such as Treasury bills, between the purchase price and the reimbursed amount, per the statement.

Tether said that it also focuses on developing communication systems, energy and bitcoin mining infrastructure among its smaller investments.

For years, Tether has been criticized within the crypto industry for its lack of transparency about its reserves and controversial investment decisions.

However, the firm’s flagship token USDT emerged as a safe haven in March as the U.S. regional banking crisis hit Circle’s USDC, the second largest stablecoin. The sudden implosion of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) left a part of USDC’s cash reserves frozen at the bank over a weekend, and several stablecoins lost their dollar peg temporarily in a knock-on effect.

Tether came out of the calamity as a clear winner by maintaining its price stability due to its perceived disconnection from U.S-based banks, being incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and Hong Kong. USDT’s circulation has grown 24% this year while most rivals have suffered significant outflows.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.

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Krisztian  Sandor

Krisztian Sandor is a reporter on the U.S. markets team focusing on stablecoins and institutional investment. He holds BTC and ETH.


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