In this article, I’ll delve into the intriguing and often contentious world of Tether (USDT) to understand why this particular stablecoin has stirred up controversy within the cryptocurrency sphere. Tether, a digital asset designed to maintain a 1:1 peg with the US dollar, holds a unique place in the crypto ecosystem due to its widespread use as a trading pair and a store of value.

However, its journey has been fraught with skepticism and uncertainty, largely stemming from concerns regarding its claimed backing by real US dollars, regulatory scrutiny, and allegations of market manipulation. As the third-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, Tether’s influence on the broader crypto market cannot be overstated, making it crucial to examine the underlying controversies surrounding its operation, transparency, and impact on the cryptocurrency landscape.

Because of concerns about its dollar backing:

Tether’s controversial nature largely stems from doubts surrounding the backing of its USDT tokens. Tether claims that each USDT in circulation is backed by an equivalent amount of US dollars held in reserve. This assertion is essential as it underpins the stablecoin’s primary function, which is to provide stability in an otherwise volatile crypto market. However, the concern arises from the lack of consistent, independent, and transparent audits that could verify the extent of these reserves. Critics argue that Tether might not have sufficient reserves to cover the vast number of USDT tokens in circulation, raising the specter of insolvency and a potential market crash should USDT holders rush to redeem their tokens. These doubts about its dollar backing have led to an ongoing lack of trust among crypto enthusiasts and have prompted investigations into Tether’s financial operations.

Furthermore, these concerns about dollar backing are not solely confined to Tether. The broader cryptocurrency market is affected as Tether is a linchpin in the ecosystem, serving as a gateway for traders to access other digital assets. Any uncertainty regarding the legitimacy of its dollar reserves can have cascading effects on the market, with potential consequences for all participants.

Because of regulatory scrutiny:

Tether’s controversial status is also intrinsically linked to the regulatory scrutiny it has faced. Being one of the earliest and most widely used stablecoins, Tether has been under the radar of various regulatory bodies, including the United States government. The primary concern is whether Tether complies with financial regulations and anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) requirements. The absence of regulatory clarity and concerns about its operations have created a cloud of uncertainty, impacting Tether’s reputation and the broader crypto space.

The most significant episode of regulatory scrutiny unfolded when the New York Attorney General’s office initiated an investigation into Tether’s parent company, iFinex, and Bitfinex, a cryptocurrency exchange closely associated with Tether. The investigation found that Tether had not been fully backed by reserves during a specific period, reinforcing doubts about its financial stability. Regulatory action and investigations can have far-reaching implications, not only for Tether but for the cryptocurrency industry as a whole, potentially leading to stricter regulations and a reevaluation of its role in the market.

Because of allegations of market manipulation:

Allegations of market manipulation have further contributed to Tether’s controversial reputation. Critics argue that Tether has been used to artificially inflate the prices of cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, during periods of market turbulence. The primary mechanism through which this manipulation is purported to occur is by creating USDT tokens out of thin air and using them to buy cryptocurrencies, thus driving up their prices. Once the market stabilizes, these assets can be sold for a profit. While these allegations remain unproven, they persistently circulate within the crypto community, casting a shadow on Tether’s integrity and its role in the market.

The controversy intensified with the release of academic research, including a paper by John M. Griffin and Amin Shams, which claimed that a single entity was likely responsible for a significant portion of the unprecedented Bitcoin price run-up in 2017, and Tether was the instrument used. The lack of complete transparency in Tether’s operations has made it challenging to debunk such allegations definitively. Market manipulation allegations not only undermine trust in Tether but also affect the overall stability and trustworthiness of the cryptocurrency market, adding a layer of complexity to the already volatile landscape.

Because of its role in crypto trading:

Tether’s role in cryptocurrency trading is another aspect that generates controversy. Tether serves as a crucial intermediary in the crypto market, allowing traders to easily convert their holdings into a stable asset during market downturns or when exiting volatile positions. This utility has led to Tether being used as a “safe haven” within the crypto space. However, its role as a preferred trading pair on many cryptocurrency exchanges has made it a linchpin for liquidity in the market. Tether’s position as a stablecoin of choice further underscores the importance of addressing concerns about its backing and operational transparency, as any instability in Tether can potentially disrupt the entire crypto trading ecosystem.

Critics argue that the extensive use of Tether in cryptocurrency trading effectively makes it a systemic risk. Its vulnerabilities can have a domino effect, with repercussions across the entire crypto market. The dependency on Tether can, in turn, amplify concerns about its dollar backing, regulatory scrutiny, and market manipulation, making it a flashpoint in the cryptocurrency world.

Because of doubts about reserve holdings:

Doubts surrounding Tether’s reserve holdings are at the core of its controversy. Tether initially claimed that every USDT token was backed 1:1 with an equivalent amount of US dollars. This promise of full backing is essential for a stablecoin’s credibility, as it is what distinguishes it from other cryptocurrencies, which are inherently volatile. However, a lack of transparency and independent audits of Tether’s reserves has fueled skepticism within the crypto community.

Over time, Tether has acknowledged that its reserves may not be exclusively composed of US dollars, but could also include other assets like loans to affiliated companies. This deviation from its initial representation has raised concerns about the actual quality of its reserves and whether there are undisclosed risks in its holdings. The lack of regular and independent audits only deepens these doubts, as the crypto community seeks verifiable proof of its solvency.

The ongoing uncertainty about reserve holdings is a significant reason for the controversies surrounding Tether, as its users and investors are left wondering if the value of their USDT holdings is genuinely secured.

Because of opacity in its operations:

Tether’s lack of transparency in its operations has been a longstanding source of controversy. The company’s practices and policies, especially concerning the maintenance of reserves, have been shrouded in secrecy. This opacity has been a cause for concern because it prevents users and regulators from gaining a clear understanding of Tether’s inner workings.

While Tether has released periodic attestations, these have been criticized for lacking the level of detail and transparency necessary to prove that USDT tokens are fully backed. Additionally, these attestations have not been conducted by reputable, independent auditing firms, which has fueled suspicions. This lack of transparency creates a challenging environment for trust and scrutiny, further heightening the controversy surrounding Tether.

The absence of a commitment to full transparency also puts Tether at odds with the principles of decentralization and openness that underlie most cryptocurrencies. The crypto community, which values transparency and trust, remains divided over Tether’s operational opacity.

Because of its impact on crypto markets:

Tether’s influence on cryptocurrency markets is another contentious issue. Its widespread use as a trading pair has led to concerns that it exerts a significant impact on the price movements of other cryptocurrencies. Due to its stability, traders often move in and out of Tether positions during market fluctuations, which can lead to a herd effect as others follow suit. This can result in exaggerated price swings and increased market volatility.

Moreover, the allegations of market manipulation, even if unproven, cast a shadow over the integrity of the entire crypto market. This impacts investor confidence and can lead to heightened market uncertainty, ultimately affecting the behavior of traders and investors.

Tether’s impact on crypto markets, both direct and indirect, has made it a focal point for those concerned about market stability and integrity, contributing to its controversial standing in the crypto world.

Because of its pivotal market position:

Tether holds a pivotal position within the cryptocurrency market, being one of the most widely used stablecoins and serving as a bridge between fiat currency and digital assets. This central role means that any controversy or instability surrounding Tether can have a cascading effect throughout the crypto ecosystem. If Tether were to falter or lose its peg to the US dollar, it could result in a loss of confidence in other stablecoins and lead to a mass exodus of investors from the cryptocurrency market.

As a significant trading pair on most exchanges, Tether’s performance is closely watched by traders and investors, making its stability a critical factor in the broader market’s overall health. This pivotal market position, combined with the many controversies surrounding Tether, makes it a topic of intense debate and concern within the cryptocurrency community.


I hope this exploration of why Tether (USDT) is considered controversial in the cryptocurrency world has shed light on the multifaceted issues surrounding this widely-used stablecoin. Tether’s dubious dollar backing, regulatory scrutiny, and allegations of market manipulation have all contributed to a climate of skepticism and uncertainty. Its central role in crypto trading and the doubts about its reserve holdings have amplified these concerns, further complicating the overall landscape.

The lack of transparency in Tether’s operations and its substantial impact on crypto markets have added to its notoriety, making it a focal point for discussions on market stability and integrity. As a linchpin in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, any controversy or instability associated with Tether has far-reaching implications.

In the dynamic and rapidly evolving world of cryptocurrencies, addressing these controversies surrounding Tether is vital for restoring trust and ensuring the long-term health of the market. Clarifying these issues is crucial for the cryptocurrency industry to continue its growth and development with a solid foundation of trust and credibility.

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