Circle, the payments company behind the USDC stablecoin, has released a full asset breakdown of the reserves backing its growing dollar-pegged token.
The level of detail provided by Circle in its Thursday report, while unaudited, is a first for the company and a notable display of transparency given the scrutiny stablecoins currently face from regulators around the world, which recently intensified following the collapse of Terra.
Circle’s report shows that the company no longer holds commercial paper—a type of short-term, unsecured debt instrument—as part of its serves. In July of last year, Circle held 9% of its reserves in commercial paper but later promised to completely move to cash and U.S. treasuries.
Thursday's report shows that Circle held $42.1 billion in U.S. treasury bonds as of June 30. All of such bonds expire before September 29 or earlier. The remainder of the company’s reserves, $13.6 billion, are reportedly stored in cash and held with regulated financial institutions such as Signature Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, Silvergate Bank, and others.
That brings Circle’s total reserves to $55.7 billion—slightly higher than the 55 billion USDC tokens in current circulation.
USDC is currently the fourth largest cryptocurrency by market cap, and second largest stablecoin in the crypto economy. A stablecoin is a token value-pegged to a relatively price-stable asset or currency, such as the U.S. dollar.
Typically, stablecoins achieve stability by offering instant and easy redeemability with their underlying asset. This creates arbitrage incentives within the market that allow the stablecoin to reliably return to its price peg if ever met with volatility.
But that reliability has for years been put into question by both vocal critics within the crypto industry and the politicians and regulators who keenly observe it. And those voices have only grown louder following the May collapse of the former third-largest stablecoin in the market, Terra’s UST—an algorithmic stablecoin which was held steady by code and not by reserves.
Terra, once a popular blockchain for DeFi trading, drew in billions of dollars worth of investments by promising up to 20% returns on UST deposits on the now-defunct lending protocol Anchor. Following a run on Anchor, UST failed to hold its price and both the stablecoin and its sister token LUNA collapsed to zero.
Centralized stablecoin issuers such as Circle, Tether, and Paxos have since faced increased pressure to assure their clients that their tokens won’t meet the same fate, especially as account freezes and bankruptcies rock the once-trusted crypto lending sector.
Last week, Paxos—the USDP stablecoin issuer and custody platform behind the third-largest stablecoin, BUSD—provided a similar report on its reserve holdings. It too was backed solely by treasury bills, treasury bonds, and cash as of June 30, amounting to $17.5 billion in assets, according to its report.
Only Tether, the issuer behind the long-time king of stablecoins USDT, is yet to provide a similar detailed report. The firm’s most recent attestation numbers from late March showed $82 billion in reserve assets, though this figure has likely decreased as the token has since undergone billions of dollars in redemptions.