It’s getting hard to pump amid the dump in the $209 billion cryptocurrency market.
At least that appears to be the case when you look at Tether, one of the most-traded digital assets and also one that’s allegedly been used to manipulate the price of Bitcoin. Over half a billion dollars of Tether has been created in August alone, a move that in the past would have often coincided with a rally in Bitcoin, yet the larger cryptocurrency has fallen 15 percent.
The assets moved much more in lock step last year, when Bitcoin hit an all-time high, according to a University of Texas professor whose research showed that “Tether seems to be used both to stabilize and manipulate Bitcoin prices.”
Questions about Tether and Bitfinex, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges that also shares the same management team, have dogged the virtual currency world since last year, when Bitfinex lost banking relationships yet continued to operate. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission subpoenaed both firms in December, seeking proof that Tether is backed by a reserve of U.S. dollars, as it claims. British Virgin Islands-based Bitfinex and Tether haven’t been accused of wrongdoing.
To date, $2.8 billion Tether have been issued, according to the company’s web site. The digital currency generally trades for around $1 because each coin is supposed to be backed by $1 of fiat money in a bank. The currency, which started trading in 2015, is pitched as a stable alternative to Bitcoin’s volatility, acting as a haven for crypto investors.
But Tether has also been implicated as a way to move the price at will of smaller digital coins, according to a recent research paper by Chainalysis. Last year, Tether was linked to Bitcoin, Ether and Litecoin about 85 percent of the time, according to the paper. When prices crashed early this year, that correlation fell by an average 93 percent. But between January and June, EOS and NEO maintained a high correlation to Tether use.