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Tether Audit Shows it Still Held $8.2 Billion in CP at End-Q2

Published 08/19/2022, 11:04 AM
Updated 08/19/2022, 11:40 AM
© Jakub Porzycki via Reuters Connect

By Geoffrey Smith -- Tether's slow progress to transparency about its reserves continued on Friday - but the figures it released confirmed how much its prevarications have cost it in market reputation.

Presenting the first attestation from its new audit partner, BDO Italia, Tether said that the share of commercial paper in the portfolio of assets backing its stablecoin issuance had fallen to stand at $8.4 billion out of a total of $66.4 billion as of June 30. BDO said that over 90% of this was due within three months and the average rating of the issuer was A-1, which is the top credit rating given by Standard & Poor's.

That average rating appears to contradict suspicions that much of the CP was from low-grade issuers such as Chinese property developers - suggestions that Tether's chief technology officer Paolo Ardoino has repeatedly denied on social media.

The credit risk in Tether's portfolio is important because the quality of its assets is key to honoring its promise to redeem Tethers at $1 at any time. The company has always insisted that it has the assets required for that, but has been fined by U.S. authorities in the past for repeatedly misleading customers about its portfolio.

Such doubts were at the heart of a speculative attack on Tether that caused it to de-peg from the dollar briefly in the wake of the collapse of another stablecoin, TerraUSD, in April. Many in the market feared contagion, and an investor base usually famed for its risk appetite dumped the coin out of fear that it could be the next to collapse. Tether acknowledged that it had lent Bitcoin to Celsius Network, a platform that did collapse after being caught out by TerraUSD's demise, but it foreclosed its loan and recovered its collateral in time - unlike many others.

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The amount of Tether in circulation fluctuates in line with overall holdings of cryptocurrency, as the stablecoin acts as the first entry point and the final exit point for money passing between the fiat and digital currency spaces. 

As such, the amount of Tethers in circulation shrunk rapidly in the first half of the year as the tightening of monetary policy by the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world led investors to pull money out of crypto and back into dollars and other currencies.

Tether's market value started the quarter at just under $82 billion and peaked at over $83 billion in May before it began a long decline that only bottomed out at the end of July. As of Friday, the market value of all Tether in circulation stood at $67.55 billion, down by around 18% from before the TerraUSD fiasco and its own de-pegging incident.

However, not all stablecoins have fared as badly. In the same timeframe, USD Coin's market value has risen from $51.63 billion to $52.79 billion, suggesting that while some people who sold Tether in the last four months were getting out of crypto altogether, there were plenty of others who were just shifting their crypto holdings to platforms that offered what they considered to be a more reliable stablecoin.

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