Tether (USDT) is a cryptocurrency with a value meant to mirror the value of the U.S. dollar. The idea was to create a stable cryptocurrency that can be used like digital dollars. Coins that serve this purpose of being a stable dollar substitute are called “stable coins.” Tether is the most popular stable coin and even acts as a dollar replacement on many popular exchanges! According to their site, Tether converts cash into digital currency, to anchor or “tether” the value of the coin to the price of national currencies like the US dollar, the Euro, and the Yen. Like other cryptos it uses blockchain. Unlike other cryptos, it is [according to the official Tether site] “100% backed by USD” (USD is held in reserve). The primary use of Tether is that it offers some stability to the otherwise volatile crypto space and offers liquidity to exchanges who can’t deal in dollars and with banks (for example to the sometimes controversial but leading exchange Bitfinex). The digital coins are issued by a company called Tether Limited that is governed by the laws of the British Virgin Islands, according to the legal part of its website. It is incorporated in Hong Kong. It has emerged that Jan Ludovicus van der Velde is the CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, which has been accused of being involved in the price manipulation of bitcoin, as well as tether. Many people trading on exchanges, including Bitfinex, will use tether to buy other cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Tether Limited argues that using this method to buy virtual currencies allows users to move fiat in and out of an exchange more quickly and cheaply. Also, exchanges typically have rocky relationships with banks, and using Tether is a way to circumvent that. USDT is fairly simple to use. Once on exchanges like Poloniex or Bittrex, it can be used to purchase Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It can be easily transferred from an exchange to any Omni Layer enabled wallet. Tether has no transaction fees, although external wallets and exchanges may charge one. In order to convert USDT to USD and vise versa through the Tether.to Platform, users must pay a small fee. Buying and selling Tether for Bitcoin can be done through a variety of exchanges like the ones mentioned previously or through the Tether.to platform, which also allows the conversion between USD to and from your bank account.
Synthetix is based in Australia, Synthetix launched a seed funding round in September, 2017 to develop the concept of a self-contained stablecoin payment network. They then kicked off their public ICO on February 28, 2018 and by the end of the ICO on March 7, 2018, they had met their goal of $30,000,000 USD. Synthetix was rebranded from Havven on November 30, 2018. Synthetix is led by a multidisciplinary team of 13 individuals. The project was founded by Kain Warwick, who previously co-founded blueshyft, one of the largest digital payment networks in Australia. The CTO is Justin Moses, who also serves as the Director of Engineering at MongoDB. Synthetix aims to address the problem that companies running centralized payment networks such as PayPal, credit card networks, or the SWIFT banking network have “absolute control over the value within the network, so any transaction conducted within them may be blocked or reversed at any time.” According to the Synthetix white paper, “Although this is ostensibly designed to protect users, it introduces systemic risk for all participants. If the network is compromised or its owners cease to behave benevolently, no party can trust that the value in their account is secure or accessible.” This is theorized to work because anyone who holds SNX tokens in escrow will be incentivized by Synthetix rewards derived from network transaction fees that will be distributed “in proportion with how well each issuer maintains the correct Synths supply.” When a Synthetix escrow user puts their SNX in escrow, USD-stabilized Synths will be automatically put up for sale on a decentralized exchange at a price of $1 USD. To release escrowed SNX, the user must buy back the Synths issued (also at a price of $1 USD) at which point the Synths will be burned. The Synthetix system uses an algorithm to adjust network fees, and therefore dividends, to SNX holders to incentivize (or disincentivize) the holding of SNX in escrow smart contracts, and thus, the creation of Synths. The theory is that this will cause users to mint and burn Synths in the appropriate amount based solely on supply and demand.