August 11, 2022

Stablecoins have been the speak of the city these days. On this article, Diego Vera of explains the several types of stablecoins, and why some usually tend to fail than others.

In Could, we noticed the collapse of the Terra protocol. It included the LUNA and UST cryptocurrencies. The collapse strongly impacted the cryptocurrency ecosystem .

After the actual fact, the query concerning stablecoins or steady currencies was as soon as once more within the fore. How protected are stablecoins actually?

Earlier than answering this query, let’s take a short take a look at what occurred to UST, the Terra stablecoin.

Why did UST collapse?

Within the e-newsletter of the primary of April of this 12 months, we advised you the way Terraform Labs, the controlling firm of the UST steady coin and the LUNA cryptocurrency, was spending $100m day by day in purchases of Bitcoin (BTC). They argued that they have been “supporting UST in case of a promoting strain that would decouple the stablecoin from the greenback.”

The corporate managed to buy a complete of 80,000 BTC (about $2.3 billion at present costs) for this goal. So the plan didn’t work out?

The primary attraction of Terra was the Anchor protocol, a set of directions programmed within the blockchain that supplied a 20% annual return on the UST stablecoin for leaving your cash in it. This 20% was financed by the creation (“printing” within the outdated method) of recent LUNA tokens. The LUNA tokens have been in flip have been additionally liable for sustaining the parity of UST with the greenback utilizing an algorithm. These kind of stablecoins are known as “algorithmic stablecoins.”

An algorithm is a sequence of logical steps that permit a selected operate to be fulfilled. On this case it refers to algorithms created to take care of the cryptocurrency<=>greenback parity.

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Secure cash: Not so steady

With the value drop within the crypto market that occurred on the primary weekend of Could, LUNA misplaced about 50% of its worth in simply 1 day. This induced UST to lose its parity with the greenback (since LUNA helps UST). Folks began taking their UST out of the protocol, and in that weekend, $7 billion was withdrawn.

The algorithm, attempting to stop UST from persevering with to lose its worth, started to print extra LUNA, artificially, and inject it as “again” to this stablecoin. By doing this (growing the availability of LUNA with out a rise in demand), the token closely devalued, thus additionally UST.

This is named “the algorithmic stablecoin loss of life spiral.” UST is just not the primary to expertise it. Nicely-known algorithmic stablecoins which have failed embody IRON, ESD, ZAI, and a number of other extra.

And the 80 thousand BTC of Terra? The corporate say that “they used nearly all of those to attempt to hold UST afloat.” That is with out constructive outcomes.

Stablecoins have been the talk of the town lately. Here's why some are more likely to fail than others.

Why aren’t all stablecoins the identical ?

We now have already met algorithmic stablecoins, however what others are there?

There are 2 major classes of stablecoins:

•             algorithmic

•             asset-backed

Stablecoins: Asset-backed – centralized

These kind of steady cash, or stablecoins, are backed on a 1:1 foundation with {dollars} or low-volatile short-term property of equal worth. In different phrases, for each 1 of the cash minted, there’s 1 greenback in a backup checking account.

Similar to how nationwide currencies was earlier than, the place banknotes have been backed by gold . In these stablecoins, the tokens are backed by banknotes (though for the reason that Nineteen Seventies nationwide banknotes have ceased to be backed by gold).

USDC or USDT, the 2 largest stablecoins within the ecosystem, match into this class. Each are issued by centralized entities (Centre within the case of USDC and Tether in the case of USDT).

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USDC is the most transparent, audited and regulated stablecoin (which is why we chose it on It is also the fastest growing, most likely for the same reasons.

The issuing company publishes monthly accounting reports of the reserves and their respective support, carried out by the New York firm, Grant Thornton.

In the case of USDT, the issuing company, Tether, ensures that its reserves are 100% backed, although they have had problems with the law in the past, where even the New York Attorney General accused them of “covering massive financial losses.”

It should be noted that Tether publishes accounting reports every three months, in which it assures that its backing is indeed 1:1.

In recent weeks, and after what happened with UST, the market capitalization of USDT fell 13%, losing $10 billion, while that of USDC increased 10%, equivalent to $5 billion. This revealed the value that users give to transparency in these types of assets.

Stablecoins: Asset-backed – decentralized

These types of stable coins are backed by other cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ether. The collateral used for its issuance is greater than 1:1. Thus, they manage to maintain the value of the currency in the event of a sharp drop in the market.

The best known case is DAI, whose creator protocol is the decentralized company MakerDAO.

Anyone can use this protocol, without the need for private intervention.

How does it work? Its logic is similar to the Bitcoin-backed credits, but in a decentralized way.

First of all, to mint DAI you must use a dApp (decentralized application). You have to have a wallet that allows you to connect to it, such as MetaMask. Let’s imagine that a person wants to receive 2,500 DAI (equivalent to US$2,500).

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For that, you must leave locked in the protocol, at least, $3,750 (150% collateral).

But what happens if ETH falls in price against the dollar? The collateral (ETH) will be instantly liquidated by the dApp’s smart contract, and the person will only keep the DAI.

On the contrary, if the price of ETH increases, you will be able to exchange the DAI for the ETH collateral that you previously left locked in the protocol. The difference is that this ETH is now worth more in USD.

To reduce the risk of instant liquidation should the price of ETH drop, the user can, for example, enter $5,000 instead of $3,750. In this case, the collateralization would be 200% and the margin of downward movement of the price of ETH, before the liquidation occurs, will be greater.

DAI crypto


Decentralized protocols carry a high risk of losing all or part of your investment, even when you fully understand how they work.

It is essential that if you plan to participate in a project, you do your own research regarding the risks that this entails, so that your experience in the crypto world is as positive as possible.

About the author

Diego Vera is the Communications Manager at He aims to spread the Bitcoin philosophy and looks forward to the communicational transformation we are experiencing. He is learning a little more about the crypto world every day.

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