Me pretending Tether makes sense

Understanding Tether: Mission Ummpossible

Cas Piancey


This is going to be an explanatory guide about understanding the difference between Tether “Prints” (or “Mints” as some refer to them) and Tether “issuances”. Anyone reading this likely knows what Tether is, but in case you need a reminder:

Tether is a stablecoin. It was originally intended to be 1–1 backed by cash reserves, but those days are long gone, and now Tether claims they are 74% backed by cash or cash equivalents (or other assets). These claims have little to do with what we’re diving into, just know that Tether is a stablecoin and the market value of Tethers as of writing this post are roughly $1.

Now, the boring wallet stuff.

Tether has two types of tokens that are distributed over four blockchains. The two types of Tethers are authorized and authorized but not issued. You can see this on Tether’s rarely updated and always incorrect transparency page.

All chains have “Authorized” and “Authorized but not issued”

Before Tethers can be dispersed, they must exist. Tether has gone through numerous addresses to spawn tokens — the current creation wallet for Tethers on OMNI is 32TLn1WLcu8LtfvweLzYUYU6ubc2YV9eZs. The last “Grant Property Tokens” transaction (or creation of Authorized but not issued Tethers) for OMNI Tethers was on the 24th of April and was for 300,000,000 Tethers. This does not mean 300,000,000 Tethers were instantly pushed into the marketplace, but instead gives Tether the ability to put as many of the 300,000,000 Tethers into circulation as can be backed once they’re requested. This is the definition of a Tether Print.

The granting wallet is also where freezes and revocations occur for OMNI Tethers. Freezes transpire when coins are hacked or used for nefarious reasons, the most obvious example being the 31 million Tethers stolen from Tether itself in 2017. Revocations occur after Tethers are supposedly redeemed (see examples of freezes and revocations below).

Left: 500,000,000 redeemed and then revoked. Right: The frozen ~31m Tethers.

Once created, Tether tokens are instantly sent to “The Treasury”. This is where issuances can take place. Continuing our example with OMNI Tethers, you can view the issuances at 1NTMakcgVwQpMdGxRQnFKyb3G1FAJysSfz. This is what the pages transactions look like as of today’s date:

Up top you can see ~120,000,000 in Tethers. These Tethers are considered “Authorized but not issued”

When Tethers are sent to The Treasury from the granting address, they are considered “Authorized but not issued”. However, once The Treasury sends out Tethers to other exchange wallets, those Tethers are considered an “Issuance” and, preferably, this means they’re backed. AFter being sent out, like the first 3,000,000 Tether transaction in the picture above, the Tethers are now “Authorized” and have a denoted value. If you look on Coinmarketcap or other price aggregation sites, every issuance should lead to an increase in circulating supply, whereas every Grant Property transaction should lead to an increase in Total Supply.

Vice versa, when Tethers are sent back to The Treasury (the third transaction down in the picture above shows a return of 5,000,000 Tethers from Bitfinex), this is considered a redemption and should show a decrease in circulating supply, but not a decrease in Total Supply of Tethers. Decreases in Total Supply of Tether (as seen in October of 2018) only occur when Tether tokens are revoked.


Current Granting Address(?):