What Are Stablecoins?

what is a stablecoin

This is because the value of a stablecoin is (most often) pegged to another asset, such as gold, a fiat currency, or another crypto. The intention is that the value of a stablecoin is always equal to the asset it is pegged to. Stablecoins also have the potential to act as payment alternatives to fiat currencies. By utilising stablecoins, businesses can accept payments at a very low cost, and governments can run conditional cash transfer programmes more seamlessly.

what is a stablecoin

Stablecoins are a type of Bitcoin alternative (altcoin) that is built to offer more stability than other cryptos. Some are actually backed by a reserve of the asset they represent; others use algorithms or other methods to keep their values from fluctuating too much. NerdWallet, Inc. is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. Its articles, interactive tools and other content are provided to you for free, as self-help tools and for informational purposes only. NerdWallet does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information in regard to your individual circumstances. Examples are hypothetical, and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific investment issues.

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It also transfers the value of the stablecoins between individuals. With cryptoassets, like Bitcoin, their value tends to move up what is a stablecoin and down a lot in a short space of time. It is one reason why cryptoassets, like Bitcoin, are not widely used to pay for things.

USDC was created by Circle in collaboration with Coinbase; however, Circle issues the stablecoin tokens. The company behind Circle also owns Poloniex exchange and has investors from Goldman Sachs and Baidu. Though this stablecoin category is the simplest, it is the most centralized, too. A central entity acts as the fiat reserve custodian and manages issuance of fiat-backed tokens and receipt of new fiats. The current methods are not only costly but also take days to clear a single international payment. Financial institutions like Wells Fargo and JP Morgan look at stablecoins as an efficient solution for settling international payments.


Blockchain development teams or companies can create and release stablecoins the same way they do other tokens, usually by solving complex math puzzles in a process known as proof of work (PoW). Pegged to assets such as the U.S. dollar, stablecoins aren’t prone to the wild swings that rock Bitcoin and its ilk. These staid coins enable crypto traders to lessen the risk of their portfolios.

If the collateral price falls sharply, the debt position will be liquidated, and the remaining collateral will be returned to the user. Reserving of pegged assets refers to a fully collateralised system backed by pegged assets, where arbitrageurs are incentivised by helping to stabilise their price. When the price of a stablecoin is lower than its pegged asset, arbitrageurs can buy the stablecoin at a lower price before redeeming it at the price of its pegged asset.

How many stablecoins are there?

For example, MakerDAO’s Dai (DAI) stablecoin is pegged to the U.S. dollar but backed by Ethereum (ETH) and other cryptocurrencies worth 150% of the DAI stablecoin in circulation. Crypto-collateralized stablecoins are backed by other cryptocurrencies. Because the reserve cryptocurrency may also be prone to high volatility, such stablecoins are overcollateralized—that is, the value of cryptocurrency held in reserves exceeds the value of the stablecoins issued.

what is a stablecoin

Cryptocurrency-backed stablecoins are issued with cryptocurrencies as collateral, conceptually similar to fiat-backed stablecoins. In many cases, these allow users to take out a loan against a smart contract via locking up collateral, making it more worthwhile to pay off their debt should the stablecoin ever decrease in value. In addition, to prevent sudden crashes, a user who takes out a loan may https://www.tokenexus.com/ be liquidated by the smart contract should their collateral decrease too close to the value of their withdrawal. Stablecoins provide a way to bridge the gap between fiat currencies (such as pounds sterling) and cryptocurrencies. They’re designed to provide stability in the infamously volatile cryptocurrency market as the prices of most are “pegged” to something valuable like the US dollar or gold.

Why Are Stablecoins So Important?

Stablecoins are here to stay, and PYUSD is set to play a prominent role going forward, but investors need to watch how policy conversations are evolving. Instead of undergoing an audit, the company parted ways with the audit firm. A year later, a New York Attorney General probed the currency, claiming that Tether did not have the resources to fully back the token.

  • If doubts arise about the adequacy of the reserve backing the stablecoins in circulation, that could undermine their value.
  • Unlike the three stablecoins mentioned above, DAI is not backed by U.S. dollars but by a combination of various crypto assets.
  • During the same time, the broader crypto market was experiencing a sell-off.
  • If you’re curious about cryptocurrency, think about using some “fun money” — those dollars left over after you’ve built your savings and paid for essential expenses.
  • In a bear market, traders can flip their Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other crypto assets to stablecoin in a split second.

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Such reserves are maintained by independent custodians and are regularly audited. Tether (USDT) and TrueUSD (TUSD) are popular stablecoins backed by U.S. dollar reserves and denominated at parity to the dollar. At a market cap of $66.9 billion, USDT is currently the third biggest cryptocurrency, behind Bitcoin and Ethereum (ETH). However, it has been besieged by doubt around the reliability of its reserves for years. USDC is a stablecoin outlier in disclosing precise data regarding its assets and liabilities. There has long been controversy about the reliability of the collateralizing reserves regarding certain stablecoins (i.e., that the stablecoin’s liabilities are higher than its reserves).

  • For instance, one of the most popular stablecoins — Tether (USDT) — is commonly equal to US$1.
  • Ironically, many of those investors’ funds had come from Tether—which has previously sunk to as low as $0.51 on some exchanges.
  • As such, customers receive the advantage of maintaining fractional ownership of the physical bars.
  • The backing asset could be a combination of currencies, a single fiat currency, or other valuable assets.
  • Before investing in such Third Party Funds you should consult the specific supplemental information available for each product.

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