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Binance CEO Calls Tether USDT a `Blackbox` Lacking Transparency, Aims to Give Investors Alternatives

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Binance CEO vs Tether
Binance CEO vs Tether

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Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao criticized Tether USDT for a lack of transparency, likened it to ”a block box,” and said his firm aims to introduce smaller algorithmic stablecoins to give investors alternatives.

Tether USDT, the largest stablecoin in the digital asset industry by market capitalization, is paired with many cryptocurrencies to enable conversions to dollars. Though it’s backed by reserves held by its parent firm, iFinex, and is pegged 1:1 to the U.S. dollar, Zhao said it has risks.

“I personally have not seen any audit reports of USDT,” he said in an Ask Me Anything session on Twitter. “I don’t think most people I spoke to have not seen that either. So it’s kind of a black box because we just don’t know.”

Binance Warns of Hazards

Because neither he or his colleagues had seen USDT audits, Binance started issuing Binance USD before the SEC shut it down. But he warned that even well-governed and thoroughly examined stablecoins have their own unique set of unanticipated hazards.

He referred to the collapse of TerraUSD, which he described as “poorly designed, poorly executed, and poorly maintained.”

Binance plans to diversify its list of stablecoins in a bid to reduce risks. It is also working on its own algorithmic stablecoins to add to the list of options.

“We actually have a small team working on algo stablecoins in different places that are not high scale, but they are very relevant locally in those places,” he said. “So our approach is, you know, given everything has some risk, let’s just diversify and see which one grows bigger.”

Binance listed a new stablecoin called First Digital USD (FDUSD) on July 26  and Zhao mentioned that another stablecoin based on the dollar will be added soon. FDUSD is a programmable stablecoin that is pegged to the dollar and is issued by First Digital, a Hong Kong-licensed company.

The exchange is also looking to list another stablecoin pegged to the dollar, Zhao said.

Tether’s transparency has drawn criticism before. In 2021, its parent firm was hit with substantial fines totaling up to $60 million for allegedly mismanaging and misrepresenting its reserves.

Tether Says Transparency Not a ‘Buzzword’

Tether, the company behind USDT, on Monday released an attestation report from BDO, an independent accounting firm, that showed an $850 million rise in excess reserves, which now total $3.3 billion.

The firm said that “Tether’s reserves remain extremely liquid, with 85% of its investments held in cash and cash equivalents.”

Tether claims that its stablecoins are backed by U.S. Treasury notes worth around $72.5 billion. The company also reported operational profits of nearly $1 billion, a 30% increase over the previous quarter, and a $115 million share buyback.

“Transparency is not just a buzzword for us, it is the cornerstone of our philosophy,” said CTO Paolo Ardoino. “We believe that open communication and strong financials foster trust and reliability, and this is what the global community deserves especially in a year devastated by many failures across the banking and crypto industry.”

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