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Will MiCA Pose a Challenge to USDT?

Tether’s recent $100M investment in Nasdaq-listed Bitcoin mining company Bitdeer prompted KGA's co-founder Coco to dive deeper into this stablecoin company. She has 5 key findings:

  1. The company has created 4 new divisions outside its finance (stablecoin) business.

  2. Tether Power - investing in mining companies and renewable energy that powers Bitcoin mining. It is this division that invested in Bitdeer.

  3. Tether Data - investing in AI and p2p communication, such as Keet, the first application on the communications protocol invested by Tether, Bitfinex, and Hypercore. This division partners with the German company Northern Data Group, in which Tether made a strategic investment in 2023.

  4. Tether EDU - offering education to the masses

  5. Tether evo - investing in technologies that bridge mind and machine, such as its $200M majority stake in Blackrock Nerotech

  6. For its finance business, stablecoins brought in $4.52B operating profit for Q1 2024 primarily from US T-Bills. Tether directly and indirectly owns $90B T-Bills. In comparison, the top 3 foreign holders of U.S. treasury securities by April 2024 were Japan ($1150.3B), Mainland China ($770.7B), and the U.K. ($710.2B), according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

3. Tether is on the verge of launching a white-label tokenization platform for SMEs, which will be “fully non-custodial, multi-chain, multi-asset type, and super customizable, and tokenize anything from any bonds, stocks or funds to coffee shop reward points, a white label of our tech that supports USDT, a 107+B asset.” according to Tether’s CEO’s

4. On the retail side, Tether launched a $1 USDT store partnered with the Web3

e-commerce company Uquid. Together with Uquid and TON, Tether supports the contribution to the social security system with USDT in the Philippines.

5. MiCA’s first phase of implementation which took effect on June 30, 2024 mostly evolves around stablecoins on exchanges. Some exchanges have made official announcements to delist USDT, but most of them including Kraken in Europe have not.

Based on the findings above, one thing is quite obvious. Tether has been diversifying its business to mitigate any potential risk to its core stablecoin business.

Tether's significant holdings in U.S. Treasury Bills ($90B) place it among major global players in terms of U.S. debt ownership. This could give Tether considerable economic influence and leverage. The CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald's recent statement about stablecoins maintaining U.S. dollar hegemony underscores the growing importance of USDT. Cantor Fitzgerald is the U.S. custodian for Tether’s stablecoins.

In the realm of tokenization, large financial institutions have been the primary participants. Based on the information of Tether’s CEO, its planned white-label tokenization platform is trying to take a different approach by tailoring for SMEs, and being more inclusive.

About MiCA, while some exchanges have announced plans to delist USDT, the fact that major players like Kraken have not made such announcements suggests a wait-and-see approach. This could indicate possible ongoing negotiations behind the scenes. At the same time, service providers realize that many important details have to be ironed out.

Kraken’s Global Head Mark Greenberg Tweeted on X that Kraken will continue to list USDT in Europe since the rules are not finalized yet.

Moreover, the industry is likely watching closely Tether's interactions with EU regulators and will take them as an indicator of how it may approach emerging stablecoin regulations in other jurisdictions, such as the United States. This situation is also a test of EU’s ability to enforce MiCA.

As of July 1, Circle’s USDC and EURC are the only MiCA-compliant stablecoins. According to DeFiLlama, USDT’s market share is 69% while USDC is 19%. Will regulatory-compliance efforts by Circle enable USDC to gain market share from USDT?

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