Tether Accounted for Over 80% of Bitcoin’s Trading Volume as its Premium Dropped

Tether’s USDT stablecoin has seemingly kept on dominating the cryptocurrency trading scene, as Bitcoin to USDT volumes have increased their market share from 70% in February to 81.7% of all BTC trading volume in March.

According to CryptoCompare’s March 2019 Exchange Review, Tether’ USDT has kept on dominating the stablecoin scene as well. This, as data shows 98.7% of Bitcoin’s trading volume against four top stablecoins – USDT, USDC, PAX, and TUSD – was represented by BTC/USDT trading pairs.

While BTC/USD trading pairs dominate the crypto-to-fiat trading volume, even these were dwarfed by BTC/USDT trading. While the monthly trading volume against the US dollar was of about 1 million BTC (around $5.2 billion) in March, against USDT the volume came close to 9 million BTC (nearly $47 billion at press time)

Bitcoin trading volume into fiat or stablecoinsSource: CryptoCompare Exchange Review

The stablecoin’s dominance even over fiat currency trading pairs may be related to a market share increase seen by pure crypto-to-crypto exchanges. These, according to CryptoCompare’s report, saw their volumes increase by 70% since February, to $267 billion. In contrast, exchanges offering fiat pairs saw their volume drop 8% to $58 billion in March.

It’s believed crypto-to-crypto exchanges are faster to see increased activity during market upswings, as cryptoasset capital inflows are faster and easier than fiat currency deposits on more regulated cryptocurrency exchanges.

While available data shows users could be showing increased confidence in Tether’s USDT, things may not be as clear. While several pieces of evidence have suggested the firm does have a dollar in reserve for every USDT in circulation, the company has quietly diluted its USD reserve claims in March.

CryptoCompare’s report shows that, interestingly, bitcoin to USDT trading has mostly grown on exchanges using the controversial Trans-Fee Mining (TFM) revenue model, which has been criticized as being a “disguised ICO.”

FCoin, one of the first cryptocurrency exchanges to adopt the TFM model, has seen its BTC/USDT trading volumes surges last month. CoinBene, as covered, has been the number one cryptocurrency exchange using the model, and seemingly led bitcoin to USDT volumes in March.

USDT trading volumes per cryptocurrency exchangeSource: CryptoCompare Exchange Review

Perhaps related to the increased volume on TFM exchanges is the increase in USDT premiums. Per the report earlier in March the premium got to 3%, meaning it cost an extra 3% to buy one bitcoin with USDT than with USD.

While the premium has since dropped to less than 0.5%, the rise may be traders factoring in the risk of trading in a stablecoin that has diluted its USD reserve claims, and on exchanges that incentivized larger trading volumes through a controversial revenue model.

Email Spamming Botnet Made Over 14 BTC in Five Months With Sextortion Scam

Michael LaVere
  • Security firm Check Point says the Phoripex botnet is responsible for the increase in sextortion emails.
  • Botnet was able to accumulate over $115,000 since April. 

An email spamming scam that involves the sextortion of victims has made more than $115,000 over the last five months, all while utilizing the Phoripex botnet. 

Sextortion Botnet Accumulating Bitcoin

According to researchers at cybersecurity firm Check Point, the Phoripex botnet, also called Trik, is responsible for the massive rise in sextortion phishing scams that have been targeting users for months now. Check Point says that the botnet has been issuing multiple spam campaigns since April, with a particular phishing scam that threatens to have compromising images and photos of the victim. 

A report published last week by ZDNet claimed that the sextortion scam has distributed more than 27 million emails, with the Phorpiex botnet being responsible for more than 30,000 emails per hour. Check Point calculated that the botnet was able to extort more than 14 BTC ($115,000) from victims since the beginning of April, in part by tracking bitcoin addresses used in the malicious emails. 

Check Point’s reverse engineer specialist Alexey Bukhteyev said the profits from the sextortion campaign alone would more than pay for the operating costs of the botnet, let alone for the other scams that are being carried out. 

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