TerraUST backer says will compensate some users; bitcoin back below $30,000

Published May 16, 2022
Representations of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple, Litecoin are placed on PC motherboard in this illustration. — Reuters
Representations of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple, Litecoin are placed on PC motherboard in this illustration. — Reuters

An affiliate of the company behind collapsed stablecoin TerraUST said on Monday it had spent the bulk of its reserves trying to defend its dollar peg last week, and would use the remainder to try to compensate some users who had lost out.

The token's crash last week sent cryptocurrencies tumbling, a slide which resumed on Monday, as bitcoin gave up the gains it had eked out over the weekend The world's largest cryptocurrency fell 5 per cent to around $29,700 on Monday in Asian trade, sliding alongside stocks because of worries about high inflation and rising interest rates.

Bitcoin has lost around one-fifth of its value so far this month, as the spectacular collapse of TerraUST, which is meant to be pegged 1:1 to the dollar but currently trading around 14 cents, roiled crypto markets.

Luna Foundation Guard (LFG), a Singapore-based non profit designed to defend TerraUST, said on Twitter on Monday it would use its remaining assets to compensate remaining users of the so-called stablecoin, starting with the smallest holders, though it had yet to decide the best method of doing so.

The organisation had built up a large reserve including over 80,000 bitcoin and millions of dollars worth of other stablecoins to support TerraUST, the majority of which it said it had spent trying to prop up the token last week.

LFG had initially pledged to raise a reserve $10 billion in bitcoin. The reserve was down to 313 bitcoin as well as other assets as of now, it tweeted.

Also read: Bitcoin eyes record losing streak as 'stablecoin' collapse crushes crypto

Regulators eye crypto

The incident has drawn particular attention, including from financial regulators, to stablecoins and the role they play in the cryptosystem as the main medium for moving money between cryptocurrencies or for converting balances to fiat cash.

Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau told a conference crypto assets could disrupt the international financial system if they were not regulated and made interoperable in a consistent and appropriate manner across jurisdictions.

He pointed to stablecoins, which he said were somewhat misnamed, as among the sources of risk.

Speaking separately, Fabio Panetta, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank, also said on Monday that stablecoins were vulnerable to runs.

Tether, the world's largest stablecoin, briefly lost its 1:1 peg on May 12, before recovering. Unlike TerraUST, Tether is backed by reserves in traditional assets, according to its operating company.

On the same day, bitcoin dropped as far as $25,400, its lowest level since December 2020, but recovered to as high as $31,400 on Sunday.

Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency, fell 5.6pc to around $2,000 on Monday.

Regulators elsewhere are also concerned.

The US Federal Reserve warned last week that stablecoins were vulnerable to investor runs because they were backed by assets that could lose value or become illiquid in times of market stress.

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