How do you make $6 billion a year in crypto? Trading Bitcoin could work, but it’s dicey. A better way: Act like a bank. Take people’s cash, stash it in reserves such as Treasuries, and sit back while the money earns a cool 5%.
The company playing the bank is Tether Holdings, issuer of the largest and most widely used “stablecoin” on the market. Stablecoins are like crypto cash; they typically hold a $1 price, backed 1-to-1 by reserves. Tether is now the king, towering over the market with $83 billion in deposits.
While rising rates have depressed Bitcoin and crypto broadly, they have turned Tether into perhaps the world’s most profitable digital asset. Its corporate parent says its excess reserves hit an all-time high of $2.44 billion in the first quarter, including a $1.48 billion net profit. Tether says most of its reserves are in U.S. Treasury bills, whose yields have surged to around 5%. The company doesn’t break out the source of its profits, and its asset prices could fall, blowing a hole in earnings. At its latest rate, however, Tether could pull in nearly $6 billion this year.