One of the hindrances to mainstream cryptocurrency adoption is price volatility, as these assets are freely traded in the open market without central administrators tasked with maintaining price stability. The anticipation of potential losses and gains has hindered cryptocurrency’s use as a medium of exchange. Stablecoins, however, are cryptocurrencies designed to maintain a stable value over time, making them ideal for commercial transactions.
The introduction of stablecoins in the cryptocurrency market ushered in a new wave of liquidity, as exchanges were able to provide trading pairs with tokens representing traditional fiat currencies.
Stablecoin design takes many different forms, each with its own tradeoffs:
- Reserve-backed stablecoins: Cryptocurrencies pegged to the value of a fiat currency held in reserve by a company or consortium. E.g., Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC) and Paxos Standard (PAX).
- Collateralized stablecoins: Tokens backed by other cryptocurrencies that retain a one-to-one value with a fiat currency through over-collateralization to absorb potential volatility of the underlying assets. E.g., Dai and BitUSD.
- Algorithmic (seigniorage supply) stablecoins: Rather than using a reserve or collateralization to maintain a stable value, these stablecoins are facilitated through an automated expansion and contraction of the monetary supply, emulating the role of central banks in the fiat economy. E.g., Basis.