USD Coin - What it is and how it works
Cloudbet continues to innovate and lead by example, adding USD Coin (USDC) to its stable of cryptocurrencies available to buy and play with on-site. Here we explore the stablecoin, letting you know all you need to know about what it is and how it works.
Cloudbet adds USDC to its currency stable
Since its inception in 2013, a pioneering spirit has been, and remains, central to Cloudbet’s ethos and approach to delivering the best experience possible.
In its constant bid to advance through innovation, Cloudbet now adds USD Coin, also referred to as USDC, to its stable of cryptocurrencies that players can buy and use, either in its leading bitcoin sportsbook or the Cloudbet bitcoin casino.
Cloudbet users can now choose between playing in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), USDT (Tether) and USDC - making Cloudbet not only the leading bitcoin sportsbook and casino operator, but the leading crypto sportsbook and casino operator.
What is USD Coin?
USD Coin, or USDC (which is also its currency ticker), is a stablecoin linked to the price of the fiat USD. As such, USDC trades 1:1 with USD, which, as we will see, offers its users some unique advantages.
USDC launched in September 2018 on the Ethereum blockchain, based on the ERC-20 protocol.
The overwatch entity for USDC is the Centre Consortium, a joint-venture between San Francisco-based digital currency exchange Coinbase and fintech concern Circle (not to be confused with FINTECH Circle, which is a similarly named, yet completely unrelated entity).
According to latest CoinMarketCap data, USDC is currently the 13th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation, which now stands at over $2.6 billion.
How USDC works
USDC is a stablecoin. The Cloudbet Blog has written about stablecoins before and the important function they provide in removing the volatility (primarily) of the bitcoin price, thus making them viable transactional currencies rather than a convincing store of value - which bitcoin remains.
When pegged to an underlying collateralised asset, they can serve as a safe haven to protect any increase in value that an investor may be lucky enough to have successfully built in crypto.
Of course, that only holds if the underlying asset also holds its value, which, if you follow the more evangelical side of the cryptosphere, you will recognise as something of a raging debate when it comes to the USD and the Fed’s free-flowing printing presses.
However, whatever one’s long-term view on the USD and looming monetary inflation - an argument that is regularly used to promote bitcoin (check out the views a simple Twitter search produces), and which has recently attracted some big-name investors - for the time being it would take a brave and bold soul to predict USD’s demise as the international reserve currency.
Like all cryptocurrencies, there are the dual benefits of far faster transaction execution and far cheaper transaction costs compared to traditional financial institutions and fiat currency infrastructure and payment platforms.
What could take you days (T+3) and cost you a significant amount of money depending on the complexity of the transaction and destination of your payment, can be executed almost immediately and at minimal cost.
Innovation and beyond Ethereum use cases
On a more meta level, as Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire told CNBC soon after USDC launched in 2018, the idea behind the token is not to replace the US dollar, but to create a way in which an existing dollar can be made compatible with cryptocurrency infrastructure - thus utilising those advantages of speed and cost savings.
As a starting point, being on the Ethereum blockchain means USDC can transact with any other ERC-20-compliant smart contracts or tokens.
In an October 2018 blog post, Coinbase cited what now reads as rather a quaint picture of use cases:
“A USDC follows the ERC-20 standard, which means it can be used with any app that accepts tokens based on that standard. The USDC can thus be used as a stable digital dollar to buy items in the crypto ecosystem, from Cryptokitties to tickets for blockchain-based games.”
We say quaint because, well, Cryptokitties were so 2018…
But it was near-impossible back then to predict the technological leaps and bounds that have been made in the two years since. In particular, the boom that has taken place in decentralised apps, or dApps - and specifically in decentralised finance, or defi, dApps.
When the Cloudbet Blog wrote about defi back in July, the defi ecosystem had exploded to the point that it had $2.5 billion locked in. Today, according to defi pulse, this has rocketed to almost $10.5 billion - and that’s after a rocky ride recently, having peaked above $11 billion.
What’s more, in June this year, the Centre Consortium unveiled its “Multichain USDC Framework”, with the aim of launching USDC on other blockchains beyond its original Ethereum-based token.
In September, USDC became available on the public Algorand blockchain and, it’s claimed, is able to execute at 1,000 transactions per second, at near-zero cost.
How safe is USDC? - The trust factor
For anyone unfamiliar with the world of cryptocurrencies - and perhaps, arguably, even more so for those who are - it is important to remember that the entire sector is really still in its infancy, despite the great strides being made.
And with that comes a fairly substantial amount of room for - to put it nicely - error.
Fully transparent and collateralised
As Centre itself puts it, “We like to be perfectly clear” - and that transparency cannot be underestimated when considering whether or not to buy USDC. On a monthly basis, top-tier accounting services firm Grant Thornton produces attestations that the USDC in circulation is fully and properly collateralised by USD held by the company.
That cannot be said of every stablecoin operator out there.
The largest USD-pegged stablecoin, USDT (Tether; the third-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation, of over $15.6 billion) has faced some serious questions about its collateralisation - although perhaps attesting to the overall usefulness of USD-pegged stablecoins and its early mover advantage, USDT still enjoys the healthiest transaction volumes of any stablecoin.
Coinbase and JPMorgan
When it comes to the matter of public trust, the herd very often takes solace in following the word of others. And when that “other” just happens to be the largest financial institution in the US, it tends to mean something.
In May this year, JPMorgan became the first bank on Wall St to offer two bitcoin/cryptocurrency exchanges access to their banking services. Coinbase was one, the other was Gemini - the exchange run by the most famous twins in the crypto space, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
Cloudbet - Raising the game
In the quest to constantly enhance the next-level experience for our players, Cloudbet strives to advance through innovation. One way this manifests itself is in the expansion of the number of cryptocurrencies available to our players to buy and play with at Cloudbet.
This addition of USD Coin is a continuation of that effort, building out a stable that already includes BTC, ETH, BCH and USDT.