Stablecoin Cyclones: Mint & Burn Patterns

  1. USDP reveals an interesting, and quite old, potential Binance connection.
  2. TUSD could not look more like it was trying to hide something.
  3. HUSD reveals direct connections among quite a few players adjacent to the TRON suspicion we previously raised.
  4. GUSD is odd, but not in the same way.

How Should These Stablecoins Behave?

We already established these 4 stablecoins exhibit an awful lot of burning. And, as is widely known, they are not heavily used for trading. Of course there are some exceptions — the market caps are not zero and coins are not totally useless — but in broad strokes those statements match empirical reality.

USDP

Paxos runs USDP. And only a handful of wallets mint or burn USDP. An interesting Master’s Thesis entitled “Stablecoin Billionaires” from 2020 notes that with the exception of a handful of transactions in 2018 all USDP are handled by 0x5195427ca88df768c298721da791b93ad11eca65. The tiny wallet is 0xcba1766e19f32d79e3ba7a2764f04a7042324f0a and it’s been quiet for years.

Need better screengrab.

TUSD

The first thing to say about TUSD is that there are thousands of address that mint or burn tokens. Thousands each. But only a handful that mint and burn — and those tend to be incredibly unbalanced or tiny. Like minting >$200 million and burning $1k. Or minting and burning about $100k each. There are fewer than 10 of these addresses out of thousands of involved wallets and precisely none of them both mint and burn a wholesale amount of money.

Burning

TUSD are burned out of addresses that begin 0x00000000000000000000000000000000000…. That’s right: with 35+ zeros. These are ERC20 transfers not ETH ones so this does not require any special cryptography. Look at this table of top burners:

Weird right?

Minting

Minting looks more natural. And wouldn’t you know, some open source reporting labels the top two wallets:

HUSD

This one is the juiciest. First we found nearly a thousand addresses and not a single one of them minted and burned. But both sides look to be proper addresses. We were able to tag the largest minter (0x5f64d9c81f5a30f4b29301401f96138792dc5f58) as Huobi and the 3rd largest minter (0x83a127952d266a6ea306c40ac62a4a70668fe3bd) as Alameda.

GUSD

This one is different. The Gemini Dollar does not look to interact much, or directly, outside the NYC area. Here are all net flows > $50 million within 3 hops:

Huh?

This could not look more like an effort to obfuscate capital flows if it tried. Yes it is plausible this is all bog-standard economic activity. But recall, again, what else we know: USD at the “crypto money center” banks tracks USDT well, and USDT-on-TRON tracks these stablecoin burns well.

A Note On Methods

Last time we introduced a charting technique that made plain some weirdness in stablecoin flows. This time we dug a bit more deeply on-chain. This is just a quick summary of how we built the plots above.

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