What is a stablecoin and how does it work?


This means there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding their legal status and how they will be treated by regulators in the future. Sometimes, the user may unknowingly engage in tax evasion by not reporting realized profits through stablecoin trades. Therefore, it is recommended that users keep track of all their trades and file their taxes accordingly and on time. The very features that make stablecoins https://xcritical.com/ attractive to some, such as their anonymity and cross-border nature, also make them attractive to criminals for money laundering and tax evasion purposes. Stablecoins like Tether Gold and Paxos Gold also allow users to redeem the tokens for the actual asset when they comply with certain guidelines and regulations. There are several types of stablecoins, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

How Do Stablecoins Work

Hence, when an uncollateralised stablecoin is put in comparison with an asset-backed stablecoin, the latter is commonly viewed as the safer option. Two coins exist in these kinds of systems, where one is the pegged coin while a secondary coin is used to absorb the volatility of the pegged coin. The amount of commodity used to back the stablecoin should reflect the circulating supply of the stablecoin. The amount of the currency used for backing of the stablecoin should reflect the circulating supply of the stablecoin.

What are the potential risks associated with stablecoins?

Thus, despite the name, many stablecoins have historically lacked stability because the digital assets can be built to many different standards. Stablecoins such as TerraUSD, USDD, DEI and others crashed to zero in 2022 alone. Holders of commodity-backed stablecoins can redeem their stablecoins at the conversion rate to take possession of the backing assets, under whatever rules as to timing and amount are in place at the time of redemption.

How Do Stablecoins Work

The stability of the exchange rate of such a currency in the crypto world is determined by the issuer’s intervention in the exchange rate formation process. With an increase in demand for a stablecoin, a currency is issued and distributed in the cryptocurrency market, which causes a decrease in its value. When demand falls, the issuer buys back the stablecoin, which causes its value to rise. Stablecoins can also be linked to a commodity (e.g. gold) or another cryptocurrency.A stable coin is always directly linked to another stable asset, such as the US dollar or gold, which is why they can stay so stable. One of the most popular stablecoins is the USD Coin , which is pegged to the US dollar, but you can find stablecoins linked to other currencies as well.

Cryptocurrencies are highly speculative in nature, involve a high degree of risk and can rapidly and significantly decrease in value. It is reasonably possible for the value of cryptocurrencies to decrease to zero or near zero. Cryptocurrency held in the Juno Crypto Account is not protected by FDIC insurance or any other government-backed or third party insurance. This is all to say that stablecoins come with their own share of risk.


The gold collateral is held in Singapore, where the reserves are audited every three months. This is the most common variety of stablecoins; their value is usually backed by the most popular currencies (U.S. dollar, euro, pound sterling, etc.). When converting such stablecoins, the organization that manages them exchanges fiat currencies for stablecoins. In this case, the equivalent amount of stablecoins is destroyed or withdrawn from circulation. Modern Monetary Theory, the central banks of various countries have a monopoly on the issue of money.

Some countries ban the purchase of foreign currencies, especially if their own is losing value. Must be a store of value, which implies that their value must be stable over a long period. An investor needs to be sure that the purchasing power of a currency will appreciate or remain stable in the future.

  • Stablecoins can also allow on-chain representations of off-chain assets as well as assets from another blockchain).
  • Without getting too meta, crypto-backed stablecoins are cryptocurrencies pegged to the value of another more established cryptocurrency.
  • The risk of stablecoins is then tied up in the reserve and its value, rather than the crypto market in general.
  • While KYC has become, for most of us, a normal part of dealing with money, crypto proponents argue KYC is prohibitive when applied to central banking institutions in other countries.
  • For instance, a stablecoin issuer may promise to hold $1 in a bank account for each of the cryptocurrency coins it creates.

Stablecoins like Tether and USDC are pegged to the US dollar, making them a great hedge against inflation. For example, individuals can exchange their money for stablecoins and get access to US dollar inflation, allowing their money to maintain more of its value. Other cryptocurrencies may fluctuate in value relative to, say, the U.S. dollar. In contrast, the price of a stablecoin should not change relative to the currency to which it’s pegged.

How to invest in stablecoins?

Being pegged to other cryptocurrencies makes them much more vulnerable to price instability in comparison to fiat-collateralized or commodity-collateralized stablecoins, for obvious reasons. In order to have integrity, most stablecoins are linked to a reserve of external assets of some kind, whether it be a stash of fiat currency, commodities like gold or debt instruments like commercial paper. In most cases, the company or entity that develops the stablecoin owns reserves equal to the amount of stablecoins it has in circulation. This is such that any stablecoin holder should be able to redeem one stablecoin token for one dollar at any time. This mechanism breaks down, however, when the market loses faith in its ability to maintain the peg.

How Do Stablecoins Work

However, these algorithmic or “seigniorage-style” stablecoins haven’t caught on. “This is called collateralization,” explains Stephen Stonberg, CEO of Bittrex Global, a cryptocurrency trading platform. “Apart from being tied to another asset, collateralization also includes the buying and selling of affiliated assets through algorithmic mechanisms.” There are also stablecoins that are pegged to a commodity, such as gold or oil, but fiat-pegged stablecoins are currently the most popular options. Stablecoins are often pegged to fiat currency, such as the US dollar, and backed by collateral.

This ensures that changing prices and foreign exchange rates don’t impact a trade. But cryptocurrencies’ price volatility remains a concern for businesses and people that hold them. It’s hard to cost things in crypto when their value can grow and fall dramatically. And that undermines their utility as a store of value or medium of exchange. Cryptocurrencies cannot be controlled by authorities or institutions such as central banks. A demand and supply mismatch cannot be neutralized by financial intermediaries.

Tied to commodity markets

Therefore, governments can’t tamper with or manipulate them to set damaging fiscal policy or control citizens. But stablecoins will increasingly fall under regulatory scrutiny as governments continue to evaluate their systemic risk. First, a currency suffering high inflation becomes increasingly untenable as a medium of exchange. By swapping your money for a stablecoin pegged to a more reliable currency, a person can protect themselves from inflationary forces and still trade with merchants that accept the stablecoin.

However, cryptocurrency is not a regulated asset and even illegal in some countries. In theory, stablecoins cut down on the fees, transfer time and potential privacy infringement we’ve grown accustomed to under the paradigm of central banking. Not backed by any “real-world” commodities, this category of stablecoins what is a stablecoin and how it works uses algorithms to modulate the supply based on its market demand. In short, these algorithms automatically burn or mint new coins based on the fluctuating demand for the stablecoin at any given time. The management of reserve assets is a key factor in determining the value and credibility of a stablecoin.

Types of stablecoins

This is similar to what a lot of volatile currencies do, too, for instance in Emerging Markets . These countries will peg their currency to a more stable currency with fewer volatile price fluctuations, like the United States Dollar . An introduction to cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology behind them. For example, the value of Bitcoin peaked in November of 2021 at around $68,000 from the roughly $5,000 per Bitcoin price a year before and down to only $18,000 a Bitcoin a year later in 2022.

Meanwhile, most merchants don’t want to end up taking a loss if the price of a cryptocurrency plunges after they get paid in it. Thirdly, the owner of a stablecoin is one company with centralized management in most cases. Maintaining trust and stability requires constant monitoring, audits, and checks. Even the popular Tether, at some point, was rumored to offer a larger amount of cryptocurrency than real assets were. Digix Gold is a gold-backed token operating on the Ethereum platform.

What are the types of stablecoins?

In this way, stablecoins are like blockchain-enabled versions of the dollar. The first, most popular method is by backing up every stablecoin in supply with an equivalent value in fiat currency or cash equivalents. This means for every one of the stablecoins in circulation, an equivalent of 1 USD is held on reserve in U.S. bank accounts owned by the issuer. These reserves are routinely audited by independent accounting firms, usually monthly, with details on its holdings prominently published for public viewing. Compared to fiat currencies, stablecoins also offer better settlement times and foreign exchange rates in a trading environment. Traditional banking rails, with their slow settlement times, restrict when fiat payments and transfers can be executed.

For example, in the U.S., one unit of a dollar-pegged stablecoin may be equal to $1. Some stablecoins are backed by cash and cash equivalents; others are backed by noncash assets. Karl Montevirgen is a professional freelance writer who specializes in the fields of finance, cryptomarkets, content strategy, and the arts.

Yet a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar is indirectly affected by the Fed’s actions. If the Fed raises interest rates, for example, that could strengthen the value of the dollar and any stablecoins that are pegged to the currency. In periods of rising consumer prices, or inflation, the value of the dollar may fall. That, too, would affect the value of stablecoins supported by the greenback.

Reliance on a central authority

Some popular stablecoins include Tether , USD Coin , Euro Coin and Binance Dollar . They can be purchased or swapped in the BitPay app in addition to your favorite crypto exchanges. Despite the differences in stablecoin architecture and design, all stablecoins require accurate price data for their underlying pegging mechanism and when used in decentralized applications. Since exchange rates are constantly fluctuating, real-time price data needs to be fed to stablecoins in order for them to maintain their peg. The stabilization mechanisms for on-chain collateralized stablecoins rely on market participants’ beliefs in the stablecoins’ long-run pegs, as do the ones for off-chain collateralized stablecoins.

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