Minor Bounce Lifts Crypto Market Cap Above $211 Billion; Tether Circulation Plummets

Crypto prices traded modestly higher on Sunday, as bitcoin regained its footing above $6,500 and major altcoins avoided further losses.

Market Update

The cryptocurrency market capitalization on Sunday peaked at $212 billion, the highest in five days. At the time of writing, the market was valued at $211.5 billion.

Most assets ranked in the top-20 had reported minor gains over the last 24 hours, a period marked by lower trade volumes. The bitcoin price has returned above $6,500 on trade volumes of just $3.2 billion. The leading digital currency continues to trade at a premium on Bitfinex.

Meanwhile, Ethereum rose half a percent to $206. XRP also climbed 0.5% to $0.459. Bitcoin cash was last seen trading above $449 for a gain of 1.6%.

Stellar XLM was the only top-ten coin not to report gains at the time of writing. However, the no. 6 coin by market cap has returned more than 13% over the past week, far outpacing the broader market.

Trade volumes have declined steadily over the past week, as markets re-balanced following a sudden spike on Oct. 15. Digital exchange volumes have fallen to $9.7 billion on Sunday, according to CoinMarketCap.

Tether Market Cap Plunges

Since the start of October, Tether has pulled more than $600 million worth of USDT out of circulation, leading to a sharp drop in the stablecoin’s market cap. Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, which is run by the same executive in charge of Tether Limited, appears to be leading in the offload of USDT tokens. As CCN recently reported, Bitfinex has initiated six transfers of USDT funds to the Tether Treasury this month. The latest transfer was initiated on Wednesday when Bitfinex sent 50 million USDT to the Treasury.

Most of the outflows from Bitfinex occurred long before USDT lost its peg to the dollar in a single-day crash on Oct. 15. USDT briefly fell below $0.90 that day before quickly recovering around $0.94. Currently, one USDT is equivalent to $0.984 U.S., according to CoinMarketCap. Some exchanges are quoting USDT as low as $0.96 on Sunday.

The sudden decline in Tether’s circulation comes at a time when the company is facing heightened scrutiny over its dollar-backed reserves. An influx of alternative stablecoins offering greater transparency and regulatory oversight may also be undercutting demand for USDT.

Case in point: the Gemini Exchange’s GUSD stablecoin reached a high of $1.19 on Tuesday before settling around parity against the dollar. Unlike USDT, the Gemini Dollar has obtained regulatory approval from the New York Department of Financial Services. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Tether has been subpoenaed by federal regulators over its connection with Bitfinex and failure to prove its dollar reserves.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi