Tether, the first blockchain-enabled platform to allow fiat currency to be used like bitcoin, has officially been released on the instant crypto exchange, ShapeShift. This integration will now make it painlessly easy to dodge bitcoin's volatility by utilizing the crypto coin version of USD.
Tether has been buzzing on the media over the past month or two, and there's a good reason for it. Alongside BitShares, NuShares, CoinoUSD and others, Tether seeks to bring the stability and everyday utility of fiat currencies and revitalize them with a cryptocurrency infusion.
The appeal of such a technology, a USDcoin that holds a permanent peg to the USD is very clear. Such a coin would be as fast and boundless as bitcoin, yet as stable in price as USD. This may, in fact, satisfy critics of bitcoin who argue that because of its volatility it is not fit for long-term contracts, or deals with massive amounts of value on the line.
However, the big problem with creating a USDcoin is maintaining a 1 to 1 peg with USD while using a decentralized network like Bitcoin. To simplify, some approaches before Tether have sought to mirror the Federal Reserve and their central bank-like powers over the supply of dollars, in order to manipulate the USDcoin price at par with the USD's price. This has resulted in fairly complex systems and pegs that have occasionally cracked under the pressure.
Tether, which runs on top of Omni, has come up with a much simpler solution. They serve as central bank – if you will – of their USDcoin called USD₮, and mint crypto tokens in relation to every dollar they receive from fiat banking partners. Unlike many bank-like institutions in the world of fiat currencies, Tether loudly boasts it's focus on transparency and guarantees a 1 to 1 full reserve accounting ethic.
Their website reads in regards to transparency:
“Our reserve holdings are published daily and subject to frequent professional audits. So all tethers in circulation always match our reserves.”
As a company very much intertwined with the legacy banking system, you can expect them to require every standard of identity verification that banks and similar crypto-coin exchanges require. In other words, they are clear about aiming to be AML and KYC compliant.
A Crypto Fiat?
One of the most promising opportunities that Tether creates is the capacity to pay any company that accepts fiat with a cryptographic token that is as frictionless as bitcoin. Most important of all, they'll be usable on the Internet. While Tether will need to partner up with payment processors and merchants, just as bitcoin has had to, Co-Founder and CTO Craig Sellars believes they'll have an easier time doing so, saying:
“We can leverage Bitcoin and blockchain technology to extend the benefits we in the space already know and love to the currencies that our employers, merchants and parents rely on.”
Sellars was also very clear that USD is not the only currency they aim to enable. EUR₮ and JPY₮ are also on their way. Allowing cryptocurrency traders and users to trade fiat currencies while leveraging Bitcoin's security.
Now Tradable On ShapeShift
Their partnership with ShapeShift, in particular, is remarkable since they ask no questions whatsoever about who is buying or selling coins on their platform, privacy is paramount and easy. They also refuse to store coins for their users, making ShapeShift a very reliable and simple crypto exchange, without much of the risk that traditional crypto exchanges carry. Though also without the advanced trading tools and features that they tend to offer.
Users of Tether USD₮ will be able to claim their equivalent US Dollars through Bitfinex for the time being until Tether.to's closed beta ends. To buy USD₮, in exchange for your crypto coin of choice, you'll need to create an Omni wallet.
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