When the Tether (USDT) stablecoin's $1 peg broke down on Monday, traders looking for another dollar equivalent they could easily move between cryptocurrency exchanges had few other places to turn.
One of those places was Bibox, the ninth-largest exchange by 24-hour adjusted volume, according to CoinMarketCap, which accounts for basically all trading – 96 percent at the time of writing – in the Gemini Dollar (GUSD), a dollar-pegged alternative to tether. (Gemini, the exchange founded by the Winkelvoss twins, does not currently offer trading pairs using its stablecoin.)
According to internal data Bibox shared with CoinDesk, trading volume for GUSD pairs on the exchange roughly doubled in the wake of the tether turmoil.
Bibox's trading volume in USDT pairs, meanwhile, fell by around 70 percent. "Traders have less incentive to trade USDT as a method to hedge risk," the exchange's co-founder, Aries Wang, told CoinDesk.
Even following this shift, however, GUSD volumes pale in comparison to those for the older and better-established tether. Bibox only announced GUSD trading in late September, making it, Wang said, the first exchange to list it.
"I think USDT still has a dominant trading volume among all other stablecoins," Wang said, noting that USDT volume on the exchange fell from a high of $50 million, while GUSD volume rose to a high of $2 million.
Indeed, GUSD launched only a month ago, so the surge in volume is from a small base. According to CoinMarketCap, six exchanges currently offer live trading in GUSD, of which just three – Bibox, OKEx and HitBTC – have 24-hour trading volumes above $100,000. And OKEx has only offered trading in GUSD since Tuesday.
Still, as CoinDesk previously reported, demand for non-tether stablecoins has caused their dollar pegs to break as well, driving GUSD's exchange rate as high as $1.09.
Alternatives on the rise
And judging by a recent spate of listing announcements, USDT's dominant position appears to be in play.
The rush began with OKEx and FCoin, which announced that they would each list TUSD, USDC, GUS and PAX.
Huobi soon followed, saying it would list the same four stablecoins. BitForex said it would list GUSD; ZB.com announced that it would list PAX; and Bit-Z said it would list all four: USDT, GUSD, USDC and PAX. BCEX announced GUSD and PAX trading pairs. An outside spokesperson for CoinBene told CoinDesk the exchange would soon announce listings of GUSD and PAX.
Bibox, which had beaten the rush, reminded customers that USDT was not their only option.
"What to do now if you are holding #USDT?" the exchange tweeted, throwing in a "face screaming in fear" emoji for good measure. "How about converting it to other #stablecoins such as #GUSD?"
Another early adopter of non-Tether stablecoins, DigiFinex, has gone further than the others, announcing in mid-September that it would not only list TUSD, but phase out trading in USDT.
"We have set a goal of getting rid of Tether within this year," DigiFinex co-founder Kiana Shek told CoinDesk. The exchange has since announced the additions of PAX and USDC, she added. "We are looking forward to the day Tether falls and [are] well-prepared."
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