Paolo Ardoino: Tether Ranks 22nd in US Treasury Holdings, Surpassing Mexico, Australia, and Spain

Tether, USDT issuer, the leading stablecoin in global circulation, now holds $72.5 billion in U.S. Treasury bills, positioning it as the world’s 22nd largest holder. This development coincides with China’s accelerated divestment from U.S. debt, which has seen a reduction of nearly $481 billion from its peak levels. The contrasting strategies highlight the evolving dynamics of global finance and raise questions about the stability of emerging markets.

Tether’s Growing Exposure to U.S. Treasuries

Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Tether and Bitfinex, announced on September 5, 2023, that Tether’s holdings in U.S. Treasury bills have reached $72.5 billion. (Read Exclusive Article contributed by Tether CTO to Blockchain.News)

This places the stablecoin issuer above sovereign nations like the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Australia, and Spain in terms of U.S. Treasury holdings.

For many of these communities, USDt is a lifeline to protect themselves and their families from the insane inflation of their national currencies,

Ardoino tweeted.

China’s Accelerating Exit from U.S. Debt

In contrast, China’s ownership of U.S. Treasury debt has seen a significant reduction. According to Wall Street Silver, China’s holdings are down almost $481 billion from peak levels, and the rate of selling is accelerating. “You can see how the line is steepening. China is getting out of U.S. debt and buying Gold instead,” the financial commentary platform noted.

Emerging Markets and Financial Stability

The diverging strategies of Tether and China have elicited mixed reactions. Suraj Chawla of GPU.NET questioned the long-term stability of relying on Tether’s U.S. Treasury holdings as a “financial lifeline” for emerging markets.

Propping up economies on shaky grounds creates a facade of stability, not true resilience,

Chawla stated.

BeastOnChain, a crypto analytics platform, offered a different perspective.

This actually highlights the expansion of emerging markets into the Real World Assets (RWA) and the need for a diversified, borderless approach to help people worldwide engage in these emerging markets,

the platform tweeted.

Implications for Global Finance

The expanding U.S. Treasury portfolio of Tether and China’s accelerated shedding of U.S. debt both highlight evolving trends in international finance. Tether’s role as a financial “lifeline” for emerging markets comes with increased scrutiny regarding the long-term stability of these economies, given its substantial investment in U.S. Treasuries. Conversely, China’s pivot from U.S. debt to gold indicates a strategic realignment of its financial holdings, a move that could have implications for the global economic power structure.


As Tether climbs the ranks of global U.S. Treasury holders, its role in emerging markets becomes increasingly significant. However, questions about the stability of these markets persist. Meanwhile, China’s accelerated exit from U.S. debt could have far-reaching implications for global finance. 

Image source: Shutterstock


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Web2 and Web3 tools are merging as crypto-backed debit cards

As the use of crypto-backed debit cards becomes more widespread, there is an ongoing consolidation of Web2 and Web3 solutions.

Bit2Me, the most important cryptocurrency exchange in Spain, made a statement on February 10 about the launch of its new cashback debit card, which was developed in collaboration with Mastercard.

The original Bit2Me card allows its users to make transactions via the Mastercard network, which is used by millions of merchants all over the globe. This new upgrade gives consumers the opportunity to earn up to 9% bitcoin cashback on all transactions, regardless of whether they were done in-store or online.

At the click of a mouse, “[The] idea is that every user from anywhere in the globe has simple access to the boundless universe of Web3 financial services,”

Eight cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Cardano (ADA), Ripple (XRP), Solana (SOL), and Polkadot (DOT), as well as the stablecoin Tether, are supported via the card and wallet (USDT).

It has been claimed that the corporation intends to support other currencies before the end of the year. At this time, users may access Bit2Me from 69 different countries all around the globe. Users who reside in the European Economic Area (EEA), on the other hand, are only permitted to submit an application for the virtual form of the card.

After making the first statement in 2021 that it would be providing services all over the world, Bit2Me has been planning to expand its service offerings for some time now. When the local Spanish trading platform 2gether went down in July, the exchange was quick to step in and provide assistance to the 100,000 cryptocurrency investors who had been prevented from using its platform. This was done after the investors were barred from using the now-defunct site.

During this time, Mastercard has also been quite active in the Web3 arena, delivering new services and possibilities to its customers and users. Over the course of the previous year, it has selected at least seven blockchain and cryptocurrency firms to participate in its fintech accelerator program.

Additionally, the firm collaborated with Polygon to develop a Web3 musician accelerator program. This program will concentrate on the convergence of the music industry and new technology.

Mastercard made the announcement on January 31 that they would be working with Binance to offer their second prepaid cryptocurrency card in Latin American countries.


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Spanish Authorities Arrest Bitzlato Exchange Executives for Money Laundering

The chief executive officer, sales executive, and marketing director of the Hong Kong cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato have been detained in Spain, according to a story that was published on February 2 by the Turkish news agency Anadolu. In all, six Russian and Ukrainian people were taken into custody in connection with the transaction as a result of a collaborative operation by law enforcement agencies from the United States of America, France, Portugal, and Cyprus.

According to the information provided by the Spanish authorities, the anonymity provided by the exchange made it possible for it to become the platform of choice for criminal groups wanting to launder money through cryptocurrencies. In connection with the investigation, the authorities were able to recover digital assets worth $19.8 million (18 million euros), luxury vehicles, cash, cellphones, and other goods. Additionally, they were able to freeze over 100 exchange accounts.

This move comes just two days after Bitzlato co-founder Anton Shkurenko stated in an interview that 50% of the Bitcoin (BTC) held in Bitzlato wallets could be withdrawn the same day the exchange relaunches after investigators seized approximately 35% of users’ funds held in the exchange’s hot wallets. The move comes just two days after Shkurenko stated that 50% of the Bitcoin (BTC) held in Bitzlato wallets could be withdrawn the same day. In relation to this topic, Shkruenko provided further information by stating that the new Bitzlato would have its headquarters in Russia and will be “beyond the grasp of law enforcement officials.”

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) took enforcement action against Bitzlato on January 18, alleging that the cryptocurrency exchange did not comply with Know-Your-Customer and Anti-Money Laundering regulations, which allowed cybercriminals to launder more than $700 million through the Bitzlato platform. On the same day, the websites associated with Bitzlato were taken down, and a percentage of the cash associated with the exchange were confiscated by the authorities. Anatoly Legkodymov, a Russian citizen who was living in the People’s Republic of China at the time of his detention, was one of the company’s co-founders and was taken into custody in Miami on the same day.


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Bitstamp acquires a Spanish crypto licence

Bitstamp said that it has been granted a licence to do business in the crypto sector in Spain.

Since it was founded in 2011, the exchange has been primarily concentrating on the market in the European Union. This permission comes from yet another European jurisdiction.

The information on the company’s Spanish licence was made public on November 17th.

The authorization granted by the Bank of Spain to Bitstamp’s local subsidiary enables the company to provide digital currency exchange services for fiat money as well as electronic wallet custody services to customers located in Spain.

Following in the footsteps of companies like as Binance and Bitpanda, Bitstamp was granted a licence in Spain, making it the 46th virtual asset supplier to do so.

Recent developments in Spain have shown a moderate attitude to crypto legislation, which coincides with the rapid speed of adoption of cryptocurrencies throughout the nation.

By the autumn of this year, the nation had established what is now the third-largest network of automated teller machines that dispense Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, behind only the United States and Canada.

It presently has 215 crypto ATMs, putting it in fourth place, after El Salvador (which only has 212 ATMs) since it has surpassed the nation in terms of the number of ATMs.

Over the last several years, Bitstamp’s compliance efforts have been steadily growing.

In April, it made the request for users to modify the origin of cryptocurrencies that were being kept on the site so that it could comply with regulations.


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Clampdown on crypto ads: A one-off or a new phase of global regulation?

Over the last week, regulators in three major jurisdictions across two continents introduced new rules governing cryptocurrency-related promotions and advertisements. Citing consumer risks associated with digital asset investments, authorities in the United Kingdom, Singapore and Spain tightened the requirements around crypto firms’ marketing messaging and customer recruitment practices. While some experts view this emerging trend as a sign of a new global phase of cryptocurrency regulation, questions about the efficiency and universal applicability of this approach persist.

New measures

In the United Kingdom, Her Majesty’s Treasury issued a report summarizing the results of a public consultation on crypto-asset promotions, published in July 2020, as well as the government’s further steps in bringing such promotions within the regulatory perimeter. The key takeaway here is that crypto-related marketing messages are to be included in the scope of the Financial Promotion Order, meaning that the same rules will apply to them as those governing promotions of traditional financial products.

The National Securities Market Commission, Spain’s chief securities regulator, announced a new set of requirements that will apply to digital asset firms targeting 100,000 people or more with their ads, as well as those relying on social media influencers to promote their products and services.

In both the U.K. and Spain, regulators will require crypto promotions to abide by the principles of clarity and fairness while also prominently featuring risk disclosures. Ads’ sponsors will also have to either seek pre-approval (U.K.) or notify the authorities (Spain) of the upcoming campaigns.

The guidelines issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore feature even more severe limitations. Essentially, the regulator will allow digital asset service providers to advertise solely on their own platforms, while physical ads in public spaces or using third parties such as social media influencers are entirely off limits.

Drivers of the new approach

Up until recently, regulators largely afforded crypto firms a wide latitude as far as promotional activity was concerned. If anything, it was big tech firms that experimented with censoring crypto-related ads on their platforms. Now, financial regulators are moving into the front seat.

Nathan Catania, partner at digital asset firm XReg Consulting, sees this development as a sign of a shifting regulatory landscape. Catania commented to Cointelegraph:

Jurisdictions that have ironed out AML/CFT regimes are now looking at other prominent crypto risks and it is clear that consumer protection is high on the agenda. Many large crypto players have been ramping up advertising campaigns in the last year or so and this is drawing the attention of policymakers and regulators who will want to ensure that these adverts are not misleading consumers.

In an XReg’s report on the topic, Catania and his colleagues further argue that the crypto industry players “can expect regulatory authorities in other countries to follow suit in the coming months,” noting that the wave of restrictions on crypto promotions can represent the “second phase of crypto asset regulation,” focused on consumer protection.

Indeed, one way to look at the intensifying regulatory attention to digital asset promotions is that there exists a logical sequence of measures to which governments assign varying levels of priority. Another interpretation seems feasible as well, whereby authorities simply react to an emerging reality, regardless of whether they consider the more fundamental regulatory boxes successfully checked.

Naturally, the growth and mainstreaming of the digital asset space in recent years resulted in crypto businesses expanding their outreach to audiences far beyond the original core of the movement. While the exact numbers are difficult to pin down, it is clear that in the past year the volume of crypto ads across many countries and platforms — from Indian TV to London’s public transport — has massively increased.

In the light of these dynamics, as regulators’ thinking goes, it is likely that people with insufficient understanding of crypto as an asset class will get exposed to bad-faith promotional messages. Some of them could then be tempted to invest or otherwise participate in digital finance without being fully aware of the risks.

A global trend?

Reliable data on the effects of the new restrictions on crypto promotions is unlikely to appear anytime soon, and at this point it is impossible to tell whether it will have major effects on people’s financial wellbeing or crypto companies’ bottom line.

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of crypto exchange Binance CEO, opined that the growing trend will not affect the demand for digital asset products because word of mouth is the primary marketing tool in this space.

It is also not warranted that the regulatory concern for cryptocurrency promotions will be equally distributed geographically. For one, in the United States, there are currently few signs of crypto ads being in government watchdogs’ crosshairs.

Raul Garcia, financial services principal at Florida-based accounting services firm Kaufman Rossin, noted to Cointelegraph that in the United States, regulatory focus is on taxation and investor protection, whereas promotional messages remain outside of the scope of the authorities’ attention. Garcia commented:

Everywhere you look in the U.S. there’s something about crypto, they’re advertising […] And I really don’t see any strong resistance, any limit to crypto promotion or anything like that. Too much money to be made!

The difference between the jurisdictions ramping up cryptocurrency ads oversight and the U.S. can be attributed to the heightened focus on consumer protection characteristic of many European nations and Singapore versus the American free-market focus. All other regulatory considerations held equal, more relaxed rules for digital asset promotions could make the U.S. a more attractive destination for crypto companies in the future.