In 2017 and 2018, analysts across the board accused Tether, the stablecoin provider, of manipulating markets by printing USDT, one of the highest traded crypto assets.
A seminal report from an American school suggested that the cryptocurrency firm, which admittedly has a checkered history, managed to drive Bitcoin to $20,000 by issuing the aforementioned stablecoin.
The two researchers involved wrote: “By mapping the blockchains of Bitcoin and Tether, we are able to establish that entities associated with the Bitfinex exchange use Tether to purchase Bitcoin when prices are falling.”
Despite this report, which many in the cryptocurrency space saw as a smoking gun, one prominent industry executive, whose exchange is known to be a hotbed for Tether use, recently came out to defend USDT.
USDT Supply Surges Amid Bitcoin Boom
As you likely are aware of, the past few months have seen the Bitcoin price absolutely skyrocket — moon, if you will. In fact, ever since collapsing to $3,150 in mid-December, the cryptocurrency has shot higher by over 250%, now finding itself trading for $10,850 apiece.
The explanations for this rally have varied. Per previous reports from Blockonomi, Erik Voorhees of ShapeShift attributed the recent move to simple market cycles, noting that in December, the ‘investor hive mind’ collectively decided that BTC had fallen far enough, and then began to accumulate.
Others, like Fundstrat’s resident Bitcoin bull Tom Lee, have claimed that the move has been caused by stronger institutional involvement, marked by an incessant press fanfare and growing volumes on over-the-counter desks and Wall Street-friendly exchanges.
A new theory recently emerged, however. Filb Filb, a popular analyst, noted that there is a clear correlation between the amount of USDT in circulation and the price action of Bitcoin.
As can be seen below, every time the Tether treasury minted more of its stablecoin, which exists on the Bitcoin (Omni), Ethereum, Tron, or EOS chains, BTC rallied — often 30 days after the minting of said coins. This correlation is so accurate that it basically predicted the move from $5,000 to $13,800, which, if you’re aware of the glaring inaccuracy of calls made in the industry, is quite the feat.
— fil₿fil₿ (@filbfilb) June 11, 2019
In his Telegram channel, Filb Filb remarked that with there being over $100 million of USDT authorized for release on Monday, Bitcoin may soon recover strongly from the doldrums of $10,000.
Kraken CEO Dispels Rumors
Despite this seeming confirmation that Tether, in some ways, could be aiding the cryptocurrency market, Jesse Powell recently came out to dispel these rumors.
Speaking with TD Ameritrade’s television network, the chief executive of Kraken remarked that USDT is being forcefully printed to manipulatively send Bitcoin higher. Instead, he tells the outlet, the stablecoin has been instrumental in acting as a fiat on-ramp. Power goes on to state that the amount of the cryptocurrency in circulation is actually representative of what’s going on at the fiat level of exchanges, presumably citing data from his own platform. He adds:
“I don’t feel that Tether is artificially inflating the price of bitcoin,” he said. “The stablecoin is only a small part of fiat supply among all the exchanges. Tether’s printing is actually reflective of the total fiat money coming into the system […] It is the huge retail demand that is driving up the bitcoin price.”
To put it in other words, the growth in USDT is a small sign that money is flowing back into the cryptocurrency space, not a way for manipulators to artificially pump the price of Bitcoin. And on the matter of why this is occurring, Powell looked to the fact that there has been an uptick in retail demand caused by media attention, which presumably leads to a renewed sense of hype.