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Stablecoin giant Tether has bought more Bitcoin (BTC), bringing its total holdings of the digital asset to over $2.8 billion.
Blockchain data shows a BTC address associated with Tether received 8,888 BTC—$379 million—at the end of December.
The buy brought Tether’s holdings to a total of 66,465 BTC. That means it is one of the biggest private companies holding BTC. Tether snapped up BTC constantly throughout 2023. In May, the company announced it would begin using profits to buy Bitcoin to hold in its reserves. It also said it planned to begin mining Bitcoin later that same month.
But other than having a large market cap, USDT is the most-traded digital asset: it’s a stablecoin—a cryptocurrency backed by a real, stable asset, such as the U.S. dollar—so it is widely used by traders buying and selling digital assets.
Stablecoins like USDT work to streamline the process of turning Bitcoin—or any other cryptocurrency—into dollars, euros, or yen on an exchange.
The company behind the biggest stablecoin is controversial, though: in the past, it has been criticized for not being transparent enough about revealing that the cryptocurrency is indeed backed by what they say it is—cold, hard cash.
Tether agreed to no longer do business in New York after a two-year New York Attorney General investigation found it had “made false statements about the backing” of its stablecoin in 2021.
Along with crypto exchange and sister company Bitfinex, it agreed to pay $18.5 million in fines to end the state’s 22-month investigation into its activities.
But Tether apparently does have the backing of at least one major traditional finance firm. In a message to critics, Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick told CNBC in December that the Wall Street broker holds "a lot" of the stablecoin issuer's treasuries. “I keep their treasuries—and they have a lot of treasuries, they're over $90 billion now,” he said.
Earlier this week, Lutnick doubled down, telling Bloomberg point blank that Tether holds the reserves it says it does. “They have the money," he said.