USDC, the stablecoin founded by payments firm Circle and crypto exchange Coinbase, reached a supply of three billion USDC earlier this week amidst greater demand from institutional and retail investors. That's according to the coin’s issuer, the Centre Consortium, who released the numbers today.

Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies backed on a 1:1 basis with fiat currencies—the US Dollar in USDC’s case—that aim to make crypto-to-fiat onramps easier, faster, and more transparent—compared to traditional bank wires that can take days and charge high fees.

Centre said institutional players drove growth for USDC by using it for payments, commerce, and treasury operations due to its near-instant settlement speeds, irreversible transactions, and around-the-clock availability.

USDC’s circulation grew by 500% in 2020 alone, the consortium said. It added that since its launch in 2018, the stablecoin has conducted over $230 billion worth of transactions for various use cases, such as trading, cross-border transfers, or retail payments.

DeFi lending and credit markets, which gained prominence in the crypto industry in mid-2020, were another large use case. Such protocols have over $14 billion of value locked up, of which USDC forms a significant part, and continue to grow rapidly as demand for borrowing in stablecoins grows around the world, Centre said.

The consortium claimed emerging markets like Latin America, which are currently facing the ill-effects of over-inflation, were increasingly using USDC (and other stablecoins) ahead of their own fiat currencies.

But despite its growth, USDC’s not stopping anytime soon. Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle, said the stablecoin is targeting a $1 trillion valuation (bringing its circulating supply to a trillion) by continuing to make advancements on its technology, availability, and regulations.

Allaire noted recently proposed regulations, such as the STABLE Act, suggest that robust legal frameworks for stablecoin issuers are soon to come and they might pave the way for regulated providers to expand.

He pointed out the growing adoption of Bitcoin as another reason for stablecoin growth, “Mainstream acceptance of Bitcoin is paralleled with the integration of stablecoins into the financial system more broadly.”

Stablecoins might just become crypto’s killer app after all.