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.
OriginTrail provides a helpful protocol solution to the problem of maintaining trust among all players involved in bringing a product to market by making the “chain” in “supply chain” more literal. Using blockchain technology, OriginTrail can append immutable data to products as they take each step along the supply route. Thus, each participant not only verifies that their conditions are being met but that at every previous stage, the right conditions were also met by everyone else. This is achieved by making an application layer that allows data to be collected in the real world, and then stored on the blockchain. OriginTrail started out by testing their tracking with organic beef products in 2014, and they are still mostly involved in the tracking of food products in general. It wasn’t until 2016 that they introduced a blockchain into their system. In January 2018, they raised US$22.5 million in their ICO. Since their ICO they’ve successfully launched their testnet, implemented privacy features, and achieved compliance with the GS1 standards that are integral to their business model. Their roadmap is robust and full of details, citing certifications with international bodies, alliances with companies, and entering new markets. Their mainnet is scheduled for launch in Q3 2018, and thereafter they appear to be on track to having all their services fully operational by 2020. OriginTrail is not the first or only company to recognize that supply chains could benefit a great deal from blockchain technology. Ambrosus is also going for the same market, though they seem to be focused on food and pharmaceuticals specifically. It should be noted that most supply chains have their own specific quirks, and so specialization might be be a good option. Another potential competitor of OriginTrail is Waltonchain, a company based in China that puts heavy emphasis on RFID chip scanning as part of their business model. In other words, where OriginTrail wants to leverage existing systems for their infrastructure, Waltonchain wants to try and establish new standards and methods. OriginTrail’s token is called TRAC, and it’s an ERC-20 token, making it storable on any ERC-20 compatible wallet. The total supply is capped at 500 million tokens. The value in TRACE tokens comes from their utility on the OriginTrail network. Tokens are spent to store, retrieve, and send data about supply chains. Since TRACE can be bought and sold in a speculative market, that creates the potential for the price to go up, which would be counter to the needs of people on the network looking for stable prices for setting and getting data. However, prices for data saving and retrieval will be determined by auction, which should counter increasing token value for those using OriginTrail as a service. The Internet of Things is a topic that gets a lot of press, and the general consensus is that it will be standard practice in the future for almost everything in the world to be tracked and traced for a wide variety of purposes. OriginTrail is one company that is demonstrating a concrete plan for exactly how that will be manifest. There really isn’t much to criticize in terms of the overall intention of the project. OriginTrail has identified a weak point in the very important world of supply chain management, that of reliable transfer of information all the way up and down the chain, and aims to provide a workable and clearly understood solution.