The year 2023 proved to be a remarkable one for digital assets, especially in the case of Bitcoin. The price of Bitcoin surged by over 172%, a staggering increase that surpassed all expectations. What’s even more impressive is that during this surge, there was a correction of less than 20%, highlighting the strength and resilience of the cryptocurrency. This surge was not limited to Bitcoin alone but also extended to other digital assets like Ether. Alongside these cryptocurrencies, stablecoins also experienced positive capital inflows, further reinforcing their position in the market.
According to Glassnode’s recent analysis, October played a crucial role in the movement of institutional capital within the digital asset market. This signifies a shift in the market dynamics, especially with regards to the role played by stablecoins. While stablecoins have been surrounded by controversy, they have emerged as the “preferred quote currency” for traders and a significant source of market liquidity. This highlights the growing importance and acceptance of stablecoins within the digital asset ecosystem.
The growth of stablecoins has been primarily fueled by their application in decentralized finance (DeFi), trading, and liquidity management. As the market capitalization of global stablecoins surpasses $100 billion, with USDT alone accounting for over $90 billion, their importance cannot be understated. Stablecoins provide a bridge between the traditional financial system and the world of cryptocurrencies, offering stability and liquidity that traders and investors seek.
Despite the growth and acceptance of stablecoins, regulatory pressures have had a significant impact on their market supply. Since March 2022, there has been a 26% decrease in the aggregate supply of stablecoins, primarily due to regulatory actions by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC charged BUSD as a security, leading to a decline in its availability. Additionally, there has been a shift in investor interest, favoring US treasuries over non-interest bearing stablecoins. These factors, combined with the bear market conditions, have diminished the investor interest in stablecoins.
However, there are signs of a turning point in stablecoin supply. October marked the first expansion in stablecoin supply since March 2022, as total supplies hit a low at $120 billion. This indicates a resurgence of investor interest and suggests that stablecoins may regain their prominence in the market. The monthly growth rate of up to 3% further supports this notion, highlighting the potential for renewed stability and liquidity in the market.
The dominance among stablecoins has witnessed significant shifts between 2022 and 2023. Previously prominent stablecoins like USDC and BUSD have seen their dominance shrink considerably. BUSD is now in redemption-only mode, and USDC dominance has fallen from 37.8% to 19.6% since June 2022. This shift reflects the changing dynamics within the stablecoin market and the emergence of new players vying for dominance.
Stablecoins have gained attention not only from market participants but also from political circles. The Biden administration and bipartisan congressional lawmakers have shown interest in understanding and regulating these digital assets. This interest is further reflected in the increased spending on lobbying activities by stablecoin issuers. Tether, the largest stablecoin issuer with a 72.7% market share, allocated $760,000 for lobbying in the first three quarters of 2023, doubling its previous year’s expenditure. Circle Internet Financial, the issuer of USDC, also increased its lobbying spending to $300,000. Crypto exchange Coinbase invested $2 million in lobbying activities, focusing on various crypto-related issues, including stablecoins.
The rising influence of stablecoins in the digital asset market is undeniable. Despite regulatory pressures and market fluctuations, stablecoins have proven their value as a source of stability and liquidity. As the market continues to evolve, it is likely that stablecoins will play an even more significant role in facilitating seamless transactions, bridging the gap between traditional finance and the world of cryptocurrencies. The future is promising for stablecoins, and their continued growth and acceptance will shape the landscape of digital assets in the years to come.