A Brief History of USDT

Stock chart
Sixteen Ramos

Story by OKX

In the general history of cryptocurrencies, Tether's USDT holds a position of note as a stablecoin that offered investors an opportunity for maintaining the value of their portfolios during the changing crypto market. In the realm of Bitcoin and Ether's colossal market capitalizations, the seemingly modest USDT carved a niche for itself with a $70 billion market capitalization in 2022. However, the journey of Tether's stablecoin- USDT from its embryonic stages to its mainstream adoption is a captivating saga worth recounting. 

Tether's genesis can be traced back to 2014, when it was brought to life by the entrepreneurial trinity of Brock Pierce, Reeve Collins, and Craig Sellars under the original moniker "Realcoin". The pioneering stablecoin was issued on the Bitcoin blockchain utilizing the Omni Layer Protocol. An intriguing twist in Tether's narrative happened in 2015, with the Hong Kong-based Bitfinex exchange's ownership, ushering in a new era of increased popularity and integration for the token. 

Tether, bearing the mantle of one of the earliest stablecoins, was built upon the concept introduced by Mastercoin (Omni) in 2012. It was Tether's audacious venture to solve the issues of high volatility and convertibility plaguing cryptocurrencies that led to the creation of a token fully backed 1:1 by US dollar deposits held at banks. From Ethereum's ERC-20 tokens to Bitcoin's Omni layer, Tether has navigated multiple networks, with Tether Ltd as the central authority for creating, redeeming, and maintaining the crucial 1:1 deposit backing. 

Notable exchanges like Bitfinex, Bittrex, Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, and others became the early adopters of USDT, utilizing it as a superior alternative to traditional fiat currencies, thereby bypassing the need for maintaining external banking relationships. The deep-seated ties between Tether Ltd and Bitfinex added an additional layer of integration and utility for the token. 

However, Tether's narrative was not devoid of tribulations. Since its inception, the company has been embroiled in controversies, primarily regarding its transparency in proving adequate reserves backing USDT. The company's disclosure in 2019 that its tokens were not 100% backed by U.S. dollar deposits but by reserves including other assets and receivables from loans added to the turmoil. 

Tether's survival and growth, in the face of its terminated banking relationship with Taiwanese partners over KYC concerns in 2017, is a testament to its resilience. The company found new banking partners in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, and its stablecoins soared in popularity during the subsequent crypto bull run. Despite its original Bitcoin-based design, Tether has spread its wings across many leading blockchains. 

A crucial component of Tether's success is its unique proposition as a fiat-collateralized stablecoin. With every Tether token pegged to one unit of fiat currency or precious metal, Tether ensures that each stablecoin maintains its market price very close to one US dollar by backing it with 100% reserve assets. 

Tether's vigilant control over token circulation, strict due diligence, and token redemption mechanisms serve as the backbone for its operations. While the tokens operate freely within the decentralized network post-purchase, Tether ensures its authority over the initial issuance and redemption of tokens. 

Tether's journey from a startup to one of the largest cryptocurrencies is a riveting narrative of innovation, resilience, and constant evolution. As Tether continues to extend its reach across different blockchains and cement its place in the crypto world, its story mirrors the rapidly evolving cryptocurrency landscape.

OKX Exchange products aren't available in the United States due to local laws and regulations

Investing in digital assets carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. Potential investors should ensure that they have an understanding of the risks involved, seeking professional advice where appropriate.

More from Contributor Content