What is a Stablecoin?
No items found.
April 5, 2024

Of all the exciting crypto use cases that exist so far, one stands out as possibly the most interesting when it comes to real-world application. A use case that allows the buying of a pizza without the pain of realizing a few years down the line that you spent a few hundred thousand on some overcooked ham and cheese. That use case, of course, is stablecoins.

A stablecoin is a type of cryptocurrency designed to maintain a stable value, contrasting with the significant price volatility seen in most cryptocurrencies. This stability is often achieved by pegging the stablecoin's value to a more stable asset, such as a widely recognized fiat currency like the US dollar, or to a basket of assets, including commodities or other cryptocurrencies. By mirroring the value of these underlying assets, stablecoins aim to offer the digital, borderless, transparent, and low-cost benefits of cryptocurrencies while minimizing price fluctuations, making them more suitable for everyday transactions.

What’s The Use Of Stable Coins?

Beyond their role in reducing volatility, stablecoins also facilitate global trade and savings. They are particularly beneficial in areas where access to stable currencies like the US dollar is limited or local currencies are unstable. Think of countries like Argentina or Turkey, with wild inflation rates and no easy access to more stable currencies like the US dollar.

Moreover, stablecoins can be held without a traditional bank account, making them accessible to populations that cannot access regular banking. This feature, combined with their stability, makes them ideal for international transfers and savings in a more stable medium.

Another significant advantage of stablecoins is the potential to earn rewards, mostly in the form of yield. Many platforms offer the opportunity to earn returns on stablecoin holdings, often surpassing the rates offered by traditional bank savings accounts. Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of stablecoins comes into play in money transfers. They allow for the international transfer of large sums of money at a much lower cost than traditional banking methods, a feature particularly advantageous for remittances and international business transactions. Remove the pesky middlemen and the little guy wins!

Stablecoins are not just financially stable but also technologically advanced. They are available for transactions around the clock and can be transferred quickly and securely, thanks to blockchain technology. This makes them an efficient tool for both personal and business transactions. Being digitally native and built on the blockchain, stablecoins are programmable, facilitating their integration into various digital applications, smart contracts, and new financial technologies.

Overall, stablecoins merge the reliability and stability of fiat currencies with the technological benefits of digital currencies, paving the way for a more inclusive and efficient financial system. This synergy allows them to act as a cornerstone in the evolving landscape of digital finance, offering a stable, accessible, and innovative financial medium.

What Are The Most Popular Stable Coins?

The most popular stablecoins are those that have effectively combined the advantages of digital currencies with the stability of traditional assets. These stablecoins have gained prominence due to their unique features and widespread use in various aspects of the cryptocurrency world.

Tether (USDT) stands out as one of the most recognized stablecoins, primarily for its direct pegging to the U.S. dollar, ensuring a stable 1:1 value ratio. Launched in 2014 by Tether Limited, it offers a secure way to store value in digital form. Tether's daily transparency reports and its dollar-for-token reserve system have contributed to its widespread use in trading and as a hedge against market volatility. Despite facing controversies, Tether continues to be an integral part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem and has expanded its offerings to include stablecoins pegged to other fiat currencies.

USD Coin (USDC), launched in 2018, is another leading stablecoin known for its stability and transparency. Managed by the Centre consortium, which includes Coinbase and Circle, USDC maintains a strict 1:1 collateralization with the U.S. dollar. Its use extends beyond trading to remittances and decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, bolstered by its transparent auditing and adherence to regulatory compliance.

Dai (DAI), created by MakerDAO, offers a unique approach as a decentralized stablecoin backed by cryptocurrency collateral. Launched by Rune Christensen, Dai operates on the Ethereum Blockchain and maintains its value through a complex algorithmic system. Its decentralization and autonomous governance model make it distinct, allowing it to serve various functions from DeFi to online commerce without central authority oversight.

TrueUSD (TUSD), introduced by TrustToken in 2018, is another significant player. It's fully backed by U.S. dollars held in escrow, providing transparency and trust. TrueUSD's compatibility with the Ethereum Blockchain enables quick and cost-effective transactions, making it a favored choice in trading and DeFi spaces. Its parent platform, TrustToken, also allows for the creation of customized tokenized assets, broadening its utility.

These stablecoins, with their distinct features and robust frameworks, have become the most popular choices in the cryptocurrency market. Their widespread adoption reflects their ability to provide stability, transparency, and versatility in an otherwise volatile digital currency landscape. Degens are no longer forced to take profit into Bitcoin; they can now stack gains in these on-chain USD equivalents instead.

Are Stablecoins Safe To Use?

Stablecoins, designed to minimize price volatility, present a unique set of safety features and risks compared to traditional cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Their stability is often linked to the asset they are pegged to, which can range from fiat currencies, commodities, and other cryptocurrencies to even controlled algorithmically.

Fiat-collateralized stablecoins, like Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC), are backed by reserves of traditional currencies and treasury bonds, providing a direct peg to assets like the US dollar. This type of stablecoin typically offers a higher degree of price stability. Commodity-collateralized stablecoins, such as PAX Gold (PAXG) and Tether Gold (xAUT), are backed by tangible assets like gold, linking their value to the physical commodity market. Cryptocurrency-collateralized stablecoins, including Dai (DAI), use other cryptocurrencies as collateral, creating a more complex stability mechanism that relies on the underlying crypto assets.

Algorithmic stablecoins, which use algorithms and smart contracts to maintain their peg, can be less reliable and more susceptible to market fluctuations and sentiment. The TerraUSD incident is a notable example of the potential instability in this category. Steady lads, deploying more capital!

The safety of a stablecoin also hinges on how it is issued and managed. Centralized stablecoins involve trust in a single entity or organization that manages the reserves and supply, much like traditional financial institutions. Decentralized stablecoins, on the other hand, reduce the reliance on a central authority by using algorithms and smart contracts, though governance models and operational protocols still influence them.

Regulatory oversight is another critical aspect of stablecoin safety. The regulatory landscape is evolving, with various regions developing frameworks to ensure transparency, consumer protection, and financial stability. Although this points towards a positive future integration of stablecoins into traditional financial systems, the current unregulated nature in many areas poses risks. The fact that stablecoins remove the need for a centralized middleman also makes the bankers turn their noses up at the idea of mass adoption. Expect to see the suites put up a fight for this reason in the future.

Considering the history of stablecoin market performances, including both successes and failures, is essential. While many stablecoins have failed, others have shown resilience and adaptability. It's crucial to consider stablecoins backed by reputable management teams and robust operational protocols.

The Pros and Cons Of Stablecoins

The Pros Of Stablecoins

Stablecoins offer a range of advantages that make them an increasingly popular choice for individuals and businesses. Here are some key benefits:

  1. Stability in Digital Currency: Stablecoins are designed to maintain a consistent value, which is a significant advantage in the often volatile cryptocurrency market. This stability is crucial for daily transactions and for businesses accepting digital payments. Unlike traditional cryptocurrencies, whose value can fluctuate wildly, stablecoins offer a more predictable and reliable option for both spending and accepting digital currency. On top of this, they give users a medium to take their precious profits into and sleep well at night, knowing they will wake up with an unchanged wallet balance the next day.
  2. Efficient and Cost-Effective Transactions: Stablecoins streamline the process of sending and receiving money globally. Traditional methods like bank transfers are often slow and incur high fees. In contrast, stablecoins enable fast, low-cost transactions, making them ideal for international remittances and cross-border trade.
  3. Financial Inclusion: A major advantage of stablecoins is their potential to provide financial services to the unbanked or underbanked populations. In regions with limited access to traditional banking, stablecoins can offer an accessible alternative for storing value, transferring funds, and accessing credit facilities.
  4. Safe Haven During Economic Fluctuations: During periods of economic or political instability, stablecoins can serve as a safe haven. They offer an alternative to more volatile assets and traditional financial systems, providing a measure of security for individuals seeking to protect their wealth from uncertainties in the market. A big deal when the bear market turns up!
  5. Diversification in Payment Options: For businesses, accepting stablecoins can open up new markets and customer bases. It offers an alternative payment method for customers who prefer or rely on digital currencies, potentially increasing a business's reach and appeal.

In summary, stablecoins stand out for their stability, efficiency in transactions, inclusivity in financial services, reliability during economic instability, and as a means to diversify payment methods. These attributes make them a compelling option in the digital currency space, providing practical solutions to some of the challenges faced by traditional financial systems and volatile cryptocurrencies.

The Cons Of Stablecoins

While stablecoins offer several benefits, they also come with inherent risks that potential investors and users should be aware of. Here are some key cons associated with stablecoins:

  1. Liquidity Risk: Stablecoins, particularly those with a smaller market presence, can face significant liquidity issues. In situations where a large number of holders want to sell their stablecoins, finding enough buyers can be challenging. This mismatch can lead to a decrease in the stablecoin's value, affecting its stability and reliability.
  2. Regulatory Uncertainty: Given their relatively recent emergence, stablecoins operate in a somewhat gray area of financial regulation. The lack of clear regulatory frameworks can pose a risk as sudden regulatory changes or new compliance requirements could impact the usability, legality, or value of stablecoins. This uncertainty can be a significant deterrent for those seeking a stable investment environment.
  3. Counterparty Risk: Many stablecoins are backed by other assets such as fiat currencies or other cryptocurrencies. If the entity responsible for maintaining this backing fails or encounters issues, the value of the stablecoin could be jeopardized. This risk is compounded by the fact that the transparency and reliability of these backing entities can vary greatly.
  4. Technical and Security Risks: Being digital and often built on blockchain technology, stablecoins are subject to technical risks. These include potential vulnerabilities in the blockchain, risks of hacking, or other cybersecurity threats. Any technical failure or security breach could lead to loss of funds or compromise the integrity of the stablecoin.
  5. Market Risk: The value of stablecoins is closely tied to the assets to which they are pegged. If the value of these underlying assets fluctuates, it can directly impact the value of the stablecoin. For example, a stablecoin pegged to a fiat currency may be affected by inflation or other economic factors influencing that currency.

Is Bitcoin A Stablecoin?

No, Bitcoin is not a stablecoin. Bitcoin (BTC) is a cryptocurrency known for its volatility in price and store-of-value use case (it outperforms inflation). It was the first cryptocurrency created and remains the most well-known and widely used. Its value can fluctuate significantly over short periods of time.

How Do Stablecoins Make Money?

Primarily, stablecoins earn money through the interest accrued on their reserves. These reserves are typically held in traditional financial instruments such as bonds or in bank accounts. For instance, if a stablecoin is pegged to the US dollar, the issuer might hold a corresponding amount of dollars or dollar-denominated assets, and the interest earned on these assets can form a significant revenue stream. Tether, for example, rakes in huge amounts of revenue from their bond holdings, putting them up there with the highest-earning companies on earth.

Another revenue channel is transaction fees. Some stablecoin systems impose charges for various operations like issuing, redeeming, or transferring coins. Although these fees might be minimal, the sheer volume of transactions can lead to a considerable accumulation of funds.

A more complex revenue model is seen in algorithmic stablecoins, which operate on a seigniorage system. External assets do not back these stablecoins but instead manage their value by adjusting the supply of the coin, akin to central bank strategies for fiat currency. Profits here are derived from the difference between the cost of producing the stablecoin and its market value.

Additionally, some stablecoin issuers partake in lending activities, loaning out a portion of their reserves to earn interest. However, this approach introduces a higher level of risk and has sparked concerns about the overall stability of the stablecoin.

Lastly, revenue generation for stablecoins also comes through service integration. Issuers may integrate their stablecoins into various financial services and platforms, earning revenue through these partnerships. For example, a stablecoin could be used in a payment system where the issuer benefits from integration fees or service-related revenues.

Can You Make Money Investing In Stablecoins?

One way to earn money through stablecoins is through interest-earning accounts or lending platforms. Many cryptocurrency exchanges and platforms offer interest on stablecoin deposits, often at rates higher than traditional savings accounts. This is because your stablecoins are often lent out to other users who pay interest on their loans. However, the risk here is twofold: the security of the platform itself and the inherent risk in the stablecoin's stability.

Stablecoin values are generally reliable but not infallible. Issues with the backing assets or governance can lead to a loss of peg, as seen in some cases in the crypto industry. Additionally, regulatory changes can impact stablecoins significantly, especially in a rapidly evolving crypto landscape.

Final Thoughts

The introduction of stablecoins into the crypto landscape has been a real game changer. Those who were not around in the pre-stablecoin era don’t know how lucky they are, despite many OGs saying that they preferred the days when their portfolios were denominated in Bitcoin.

While stablecoin investments can offer attractive returns, especially when compared to traditional banking products, they come with their own set of risks. It's crucial to research thoroughly, understand the risks involved, and consider the stability and reputation of the stablecoin and the platform you choose to invest with.

In saying this, many of the risks that come with stablecoins could be applied to traditional fiat currencies. We have recently seen the collapse of banks, fraud, manipulation, and endless printing leading to inflation, and the list goes on and on. For this reason, there is certainly a solid argument for stablecoins being better in almost every way than the currencies we use today. The real future of finance, perhaps?

The current connected wallet does not hold a LARP. To get access to the Meal Deal please connect a wallet which holds a LARP. Alternatively, visit Opensea to purchase one or visit Join the Meal Deal to purchase a subscription

Table of contents
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.