It’s the third day since TerraUSD, an algorithmic stablecoin designed to trade 1 to 1 against U.S. dollars, fell off its peg for an extended period of time.
or UST, the 11th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, dropped to as low as 23 cents on the dollar on Wednesday, before it rebounded to 77 cents on Binance. LUNA, another cryptocurrency that backs UST, lost more than 90% of its value of the past 24 hours, falling to as low as $0.7 Wednesday, according to CoinDesk data.
Though Terra’s backers said they are endorsing a community plan to rescue the stablecoin, it didn’t provide much comfort. In a sign of alarm, a forum dedicated to Terra-related discussions on Reddit included a post with international suicide-prevention hotlines that was pinned by the moderator.
Some crypto industry participants said it is a “dark day” for the whole sector, as one of the most popular blockchains to grow at a breakneck speed, saw the value of its coins nearly collapse.
Investors also are closely watching what Terra’s fall may mean for other stablecoins, which play an important role in the crypto ecosystem and account for about 13% of the crypto market’s capitalization.
A stablecoin is a type of cryptocurrency whose value is pegged to other assets, usually fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar. They are designed to maintain a stable price, which makes them popular when it comes to facilitating trading, lending and borrowing of other digital assets.
Explained: What is an algorithmic stablecoin? Why is Terra in the news? Here’s what investors need to know.
For the past few days, most other major stablecoins, including Tether
and USD Coin
have seen steady prices.
“The events transpiring over the last few days cannot be interpreted as an indictment of all stablecoins,” David Puth, CEO of Centre, which provides technology for USD Coin, or USDC, wrote to MarketWatch via email.
In fact, some traders think UST’s fall will boost demand for other stablecoins in the short term, as investors move funds from UST to its counterparts. “There’s around $10 billion if not more of capital from UST looking for safer stablecoins to park in,” Matt Maximo, research analyst at Grayscale wrote to MarketWatch in an email.
Still, some investors are worried that the plummet of UST may stir up more regulatory scrutiny around stablecoins. At a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that Terra’s crash “simply illustrates that this is a rapidly growing product and that there are risks to financial stability and we need a framework that’s appropriate.”
Yellen also said it is “highly appropriate” to draft legislation around stablecoins this year.
Read: Algorithmic stablecoins may be ‘inherently unstable,’ Sen. Toomey says after Terra episode
In November, the Biden administration called on Congress to quickly pass new legislations that would require stablecoins to be issued by insured banks that are overseen by federal banking regulators.
“Of course, regulation in the long-term is net positive for the crypto space but if stablecoin issuers get regulated as strictly as banks, it could suffocate one of the most innovative, thriving, and important sectors of the crypto market,” Anto Paroian, chief operating officer at crypto hedge fund ARK36 wrote to MarketWatch in emailed comments.
A representative of Luna Foundation Guard didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
UST’s fall also intensified the divergence of views on different kinds of stablecoins. Some supporters think it shows the merits of reserve-backed stablecoins, such as Tether, USD Coin, and Pax Dollar, as they could offer more protection for consumers. “There is a consistent store of value and far fewer counterparty risks when using a fully-collateralized stablecoin over an algorithmic instrument,” said Centre’s Puth.
Still, the largest stablecoin Tether has long been criticized for