Stablecoins — particularly those backed by fiat currencies like the US dollar — are a hot topic in today’s cryptocurrency industry. Bitcoinist recently caught up with Rafael Cosman, CTO and Co-Founder of TrustToken, to talk about the company’s new USD-pegged stablecoin, it’s relationship to other stablecoins like Tether, and the price spike following TrueUSD’s listing on Binance. Here’s what he had to say.
Bitcoinist: TrustToken is a platform to create asset-backed tokens, such as gold to gold tokens or dollar to dollar tokens. How exactly does this process work?
RC: The TrustToken Platform deposits the asset into a fiduciary partner’s escrow account as collateral and then creates tokens that are equal to the value of the asset. For example, TrustToken’s smart contract is designed so that we do not mint new TrueUSD unless the corresponding amount has been received from market-makers in the escrow account. The tokens are then available for 24/7, low-cost trading.
Bitcoinist: How do you maintain price stability for TrueUSD?
RC: Generally, our policy is that “redeemability leads to stability.” The value of a TrueUSD token is that it can be redeemed for one US dollar. There will only be as many tokens in circulation as there are dollars in the escrow account to collateralize the tokens. In the long run, this feature precedes price stability, since the price will return to $1.00 as long as the token continues to be redeemable.
The TrueUSD token structure is such that we have no incentive to arbitrarily increase the supply of TrueUSD, even during times of temporarily excessive demand. The regular independent attestations by the accounting firm Cohen & Co. would alert the community to any arbitrary printing of TUSD. Tether is an example of a collateralized stablecoin that appears to arbitrarily print tokens to meet demand – a model that has not proven trustworthy.
Bitcoinist: Will TrueUSD tokens be classified as securities?
RC: Our outside legal counsel has taken the stance that TrueUSD (TUSD) is not a security, because it does not provide any expectation of profits. Also, TUSD was not pre-sold to any investors to fund its development. With analysis from outside legal counsel, we have been advised that we are taking the proper precautions to stay in line with the current regulatory landscape.
Bitcoinist: Do you plan on tokenizing other fiat currencies?
RC: We’ve been fortunate to receive significant inbound interest from major cryptocurrency exchanges that want to list TUSD. We’re preparing for even more investors to be able to purchase, redeem, and trade TrueUSD. Given the positive reception from the market so far, we’re also exploring the tokenization of currencies such as TrueEuro or TrueYen.
Bitcoinist: Do you see TrueUSD as a competitor to stablecoins like Basecoin or MakerDAO?
RC: No, given that each stablecoin is taking a different approach, we think they will be complementary. The cryptocurrency market will benefit from having a diversity of options. Given that we are still in the early days of stablecoins, we are just as curious as everyone else to see how algorithmic or crypto-based approaches perform. The value of TrueUSD is that investors and traditional financial institutions have reassurance in knowing that our stablecoin is fully collateralized with fiat currency held in a fiduciary partner’s escrow account.
Bitcoinist: What about Tether (USDT)? What differentiates TrueUSD from USDT?
RC: Tether has proven trader demand for a stablecoin with over $2.5 billion in market cap. TrueUSD provides trust that Tether does not by eliminating counterparty risk with full collateralization of funds held in escrow by trust companies, providing 1-for-1 redemption of TUSD into US dollars, and publishing monthly attestation reports by Cohen & Co. (an independent third-party accounting firm).
Bitcoinist: Goldman Sachs-backed Circle recently announced its plan to release a USD-pegged stablecoin. What is your opinion on that?
RC: TrustToken welcomes Circle’s announcement of their plans to enter the space; it further validates that there is a large addressable market for USD-pegged stablecoins.
Ari Paul, a crypto thought leader and investor in TrustToken said, “I’ve eagerly awaited the launch of a regulatory compliant stablecoin. TrueUSD will make it easier for BlockTower Capital to trade cryptocurrency across exchanges.”
TrueUSD’s price spiked to upwards of $1.30 per token after Binance announced trading of the stablecoin — which seems counterintuitive to TrueUSD’s purpose. How did this happen, and how do we know this won’t happen again?
RC: Generally, our policy is that “redeemability leads to stability.” The value of a TrueUSD token is that it can be redeemed for one US dollar. There will only be as many tokens in circulation as there are dollars in the escrow account to collateralize the tokens. In the long run, this feature precedes price stability, since the price will return to $1.00 (as it did within 24 hours of reaching the high of $1.30) as long as the token continues to be redeemable.
The TrueUSD token structure is such that we have no incentive to arbitrarily increase the supply of TrueUSD, even during times of temporarily excessive demand. The regular independent attestations by Cohen & Co. would alert the community to any arbitrary printing of TUSD. Tether is an example of a collateralized stablecoin that appears to arbitrarily print tokens to meet demand – a model that has not proven trustworthy.
When TrueUSD was listed on Binance, many expected a large spike in price. However, the market adjusted and stabilized itself – the price never went above $1.02 or below $0.99 after the listing.
For more information, we just published a blog post on why demand may exceed supply during big exchange listings. This is not counterintuitive to TrueUSD’s purpose because the value of TrueUSD lies in that you can redeem it 1-for-1 for US dollars. The TrueUSD smart contract will only mint as many TrueUSD tokens as there are dollars in the third-party fiduciary’s escrow account. It will never print more than there are collateralized dollars in the bank, even during times of high demand.
Bitcoinist: What is your opinion on the current state of the cryptocurrency market?
RC: The market is still relatively new, so we’re looking forward to seeing how it develops. The potential for fractional ownership and 24/7 trading gives investors access to entirely new asset classes. The cryptocurrency market is truly global, providing more democratized access to financial opportunities.
Bitcoinist: Where do you see blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in the next 5 years?
RC: Currently, most blockchains are used to trade crypto-assets or tokens for various blockchain networks. Over time, the types of assets traded on blockchains will include not only cryptocurrencies but digital rights, intellectual property, datasets, and even real estate. Blockchains are secure, trustworthy ways to keep track of “who owns what” using immutable ledgers and can eliminate the friction associated with buying and selling many types of assets today.
Bitcoinist: What excites you the most about working on TrueUSD?
RC: Michael Novogratz of Galaxy Digital Capital Management recently spoke to Laura Shin on her Unconfirmed podcast about how he is bullish on the opportunity for US dollar-backed stablecoins.
We agree that there is a huge opportunity ahead. It is exciting that TrueUSD is the leader in the category because we are the fully compliant stablecoin that is live today for trading on the top cryptocurrency exchanges. By mitigating price volatility, TrueUSD can help cryptocurrencies reach mainstream adoption through commerce, remittances, and trading.