Tether timeline: The complete history of crypto’s most stubborn stablecoin
Tether, the world’s largest stablecoin, has a long and detailed timeline in the crypto industry. Its executives also boast fascinating personal storylines.
Below are some milestones from the Tether’s history, a narrative that spans over a decade.
December 6, 1996: Future Bitfinex Chief Financial Officer Giancarlo Devasini is caught selling fake Microsoft software licenses.
January-December 2006: Bitfinex general counsel Stuart Hoegner serves as Director of Compliance for Excapsa. Excapsa operated an online poker game that included a backdoor enabling privileged users to view other players’ cards.
February 11, 2011: Bitfinex founder Raphael Nicolle registers on BitcoinTalk as “UncleScrooge.” He uses the account to promote scams and pyramid schemes. He loses money to another scammer, Trendon Shavers. A jury eventually sentenced Shavers to 18 months in prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme.
2012: Bitfinex parent company iFinex founded in Hong Kong, although exact incorporation date is unclear (later, DigFinex would become the umbrella over all Tether-related entities.)
September 10, 2012: A BitcoinTalk post indicates that Bitfinex co-founder Raphael Nicolle promoted an over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk.
September 13, 2012: Raphael Nicolle floats the idea of a Bitcoin lending program in which he ostensibly uses arbitrage trading to earn a profit for people who lend him BTC.
October 22, 2012: Raphael Nicolle announces the launch of Bitfinex on the BitcoinTalk forum.
October 23, 2012: Raphael Nicolle confirms there is no “dead man’s switch” for the hot wallet on his computer. He claims that he will set one up.
February 1, 2013: Raphael Nicolle claims the hot wallet for Bitfinex is on his personal computer and that he has paper and digital backups in case “something happens to the computer. He praises Bitcoin wallet Armory’s security and read-only capacity.
March 23, 2013: Raphael Nicolle claims on BitcoinTalk that he and his wife are the only people with keys to Bitfinex’s hot wallets.
March 13, 2014: Bitfinex introduces “One Cancels Other” orders.
April 8, 2014: Bitfinex warns users of a security flaw in OpenSSL, asking users to change their passwords.
April 29, 2014: Brock Pierce-backed Sunlot Partners proposes paying one Bitcoin (then worth $500) for Mt. Gox amid bankruptcy proceedings.
July 8, 2014: Brock Pierce, Reeve Collins, and Craig Sellars launch Realcoin in California, which would later be rebranded to Tether.
September 5, 2014: Tether Holdings Limited is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Bitfinex Chief Strategy Officer Phil Potter and Giancarlo Devasini are co-founders. Tether’s first Chief Compliance Officer is Matthew Tremblay.
September 15, 2014: Bitfinex adds mining contracts.
October 6, 2014: The first 100 USDT is minted on the Omni blockchain layer.
November 3, 2014: Bitfinex announces that it is overhauling its system to include AlphaPoint, a service provider for white label crypto exchanges.
November 20, 2014: Realcoin rebrands to Tether.
January 15, 2015: Bitfinex enables USDT deposits and withdrawals.
May 2015: Bitfinex co-founder Raphael Nicolle retires as CTO.
May 5, 2015: Bitfinex cancels all withdrawal requests that have been “pending email verification” for over an hour.
May 22, 2015: Bitfinex’s hot wallet is hacked. Hackers steal 1,581 BTC ($375,000 then, $80.6 million today). Bitfinex tweets a warning to not deposit Bitcoin to old Bitfinex BTC addresses.
May 27, 2015: In wake of a hot wallet hack, Bitfinex says it is working with security experts to ensure that new hot wallets are secure.
June 4, 2015: Bitfinex partners with BitGo to add multi-signature technology to its exchange (BitGo subsequently removed blog posts referring to that partnership from its website).
August 5, 2015: Bitfinex announces a revised commission structure.
August 7, 2015: Bitfinex suspends some services for New York users in response to the state’s BitLicense requirements.
September 18, 2015: Bitfinex issues a statement regarding “rumors” of a US Commodity Futures Trading Commission inquiry into its business operations.
December 29, 2015: Bitfinex makes changes to withdrawal procedures ostensibly to make withdrawals more secure.
June 2, 2016: The CFTC agrees to settle its allegations that Bitfinex illegally traded customers’ Bitcoin in offshore wallets and failed to register as a futures commission merchant.
July 21, 2016: A jury sentences Trendon Shavers to 18 months in prison after conviction of a charge of securities fraud related to the Ponzi scheme that he had promoted on BitcoinTalk.
August 2, 2016: Hackers steal 119,756 BTC ($70 million then, $6.1 billion now) from Bitfinex’s multi-signature wallets.
August 3, 2016: An investigation reveals that Bitfinex stole code from the flawed, defunct exchange called Bitcoinica.
August 5, 2016: Bitfinex warns its customers after numerous reports of phishing emails.
August 6, 2016: An archived version of Bitfinex’s blog post explains a 36.067% “haircut” on all remaining funds as a result of the hack. Privileged customers like Coinbase do not experience a haircut. Bitfinex announces a plan to distribute BFX tokens as part of an elaborate plan to compensate users for loss of funds due to hackers. It claims that BFX tokens can be redeemed for shares in its parent company, iFinex.
August 7, 2016: Bitfinex begins exchange relaunch in “read-only” mode.
August 16, 2016: Tether launches a euro-based stablecoin, Tether Euro (EURT).
August 17, 2016: Bitfinex says it has hired Ledger Labs to conduct financial and security audits of the exchange (it later claims that talks with Ledger Labs to conduct those audits fell through).
August 31, 2016: Bitfinex lists BFX tokens for trading.
October 11, 2016: Bitfinex announces another token issuance — this time, Recovery Right Tokens — also ostensibly to compensate users who lost funds in the August 2 hack.
October 13, 2016: Bitfinex announces an agreement to trade equity in its exchange for 20 million BFX tokens to make up for user funds lost in August 2 hack.
October 21, 2016: Bitfinex expresses interest in communicating with the person (or people) responsible for the August 2 hack over a secure communications channel.
December 21, 2016: Bitfinex opens an OTC trading desk led by former DigitalX Chief Trading Officer Bill Brindise.
March 2017: Bitfinex sues Wells Fargo for cutting off access to its banking service (it quickly dropped that lawsuit).
March-September 2017: Tether admits it has just $61.5 million in cash held in trust by its general counsel Stuart Hoegner.
April 3, 2017: Bitfinex claims 100% redemption of outstanding BFX tokens.
May 5, 2017: Bitfinex claims it hired Friedman LLP to conduct a comprehensive balance sheet audit.
August 22, 2017: Bitfinex issues warning about fake phone calls from scammers posing as Bitfinex personnel urging users to download suspicious apps and disclose account information.
September 1, 2017: Bitfinex freezes accounts associated with “Eth-Coin” phishing scam.
September 15, 2017: Tether withdraws millions from Bitfinex within hours of Friedman LLP’s attestation, as described in Bitfinex’s 2021 settlement with the NYAG.
September 28, 2017: Friedman LLP sends a consulting memo to Tether Limited, in which it appeared to discuss the results of the audit.
October 13, 2017: QUOINE and Bitfinex announce partnership to improve liquidity through the QUOINE Liquid platform.
November 20, 2017: Attackers steal more than $30 million in Tether from Tether Treasury in another hack.
November 21, 2017: Tether forces a hard fork that adds the ability to freeze USDT based on the Omni blockchain stolen in hacks (another update shortly after would allow freezing of any USDT, not just stolen tokens).
2017: Tether CFO and CIO Giancarlo Devasini and Silvano Di Stefano respectively are partners in hedge fund BlueBit Capital.
January 27, 2018: Tether dissolves its relationship with auditor Friedman LLP.
February 18, 2018: BitMEX publishes a research report on Tether, making special note of its lack of transparency and apparently strong presence in Puerto Rico.
March 14, 2018: Bitfinex adopts Bitcoin’s SegWit proposal.
March 14, 2018: Bitfinex introduces “Honey Framework” for traders using automated trading strategies.
March 19, 2018: BitMEX publishes follow-up research indicating that Puerto Rico’s Noble Bank, founded by Brock Pierce, might be the primary reserve bank for Tether.
May 7, 2018: Peter Warrack joins Bitfinex as Chief Compliance Officer.
June 2018: Tether Limited hires the law firm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP to “provide legal advice and counsel regarding a review of bank account documentation” (report can be found here.)
June 28, 2018: SSRN publishes a research study suggesting that Tether is used to manipulate Bitcoin’s price.
November 1, 2018: Tether Limited receives a letter from its new bank, Deltec Bank & Trust Limited in the Bahamas, confirming it had more than $1.8 billion in its bank account on October 31. Tether execs serve as executives at Delchain, a crypto subsidiary of Deltec (Tether blog post).
November 18, 2018: Bitfinex announces support for Bitcoin Cash.
November 2, 2018: Bitfinex withdraws hundreds of millions from Tether’s Deltec bank account.
December 21, 2018: Bitfinex adds USDT/USD as a fiat-denominated trading pair.
February 26, 2019: Tether changes its terms of service to read: “The composition of the Reserves used to back Tether Tokens is within the sole control and at the sole and absolute discretion of Tether. Tether Tokens are backed by Tether’s Reserves, including Fiat, but Tether Tokens are not Fiat themselves.”
February 19 through March 4, 2019: Tether changes its website from, “Every USDT is always backed 1-to-1, by traditional currency held in our reserves. So 1 USDT is always equivalent to 1 USD,” to “Every USDT is always 100% backed by our reserves, which include traditional currency and cash equivalents and, from time to time, may include other assets and receivables from loans made by Tether to third parties, which may include affiliated entities (collectively, reserves). Every USDT is also 1-to-1 pegged to the dollar, so 1 USDT is always valued by Tether at 1 USD.”
April 25, 2019: New York Attorney General Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Whitehurst files documentation related to an ex parte order outlining Bitfinex’s and Tether’s issues with keeping a bank account open and Bitfinex’s increasing reliance on loans from Tether.
May 1, 2019: Charges are filed against Crypto Capital Corp.’s Reginald Fowler for fraudulently moving tens of millions of dollars of Tether’s funds from Crypto Capital Corp. to his personal accounts.
May 5, 2019: Charges are filed against Crypto Capital Corp. senior officials Reginald Fowler and Ravid Yosef for their part in a scheme to launder money for Colombian cartels and commit bank fraud.
May 2019: Bitfinex launches another fundraising token, Unus Sed Leo (LEO).
July 29, 2019: Tether adds support for Bitcoin’s Liquid Network.
October 18, 2019: Bitfinex announces an affiliate program.
October 25, 2019: Crypto Capital Corp president Ivan Manuel Molina Lee is arrested on charges of laundering money for Columbian cartels through Bitfinex. Bitfinex denied knowingly participating in the scheme.
November 4, 2019: Bitfinex adds support for bech32 Bitcoin addresses.
December 6, 2019: Bitfinex adds support for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.
January 6, 2020: Bitfinex adds credit and debit cards as payment methods.
January 24, 2020: Tether launches a gold-based stablecoin, Tether Gold (XAUT).
March 24, 2020: Chairman Heath P. Tarbert supports the CFTC’s interpretive guidance on delivery of digital assets, which relates to Tether.
June 10, 2020: Bitfinex introduces Autonomous Token Sales.
September 2020: Charges filed in a Virginian federal court describe attempts by cartels to bribe officials with USDT, along with money laundering, attempted identity fraud, and drug trafficking-related charges.
February 23, 2021: Bitfinex pays $18.5 million in fines and agrees to cease USDT trading in New York to settle a case in which the New York Attorney General alleged that the exchange covered up major financial losses. The exchange did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
May 13, 2021: Tether releases two pie charts as its long-awaited disclosure of its reserves. The largest percentage of its reserves is identified as commercial paper.
July 21, 2021: Two Tether executives appear on CNBC, the company’s first major television interview.
July 26, 2021: The U.S. Department of Justice opens a probe into alleged bank fraud committed by Tether executives involving alleged false statements to banks.
July 27, 2021: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen calls a closed-door meeting of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets to discuss Tether. Yellen urges attendees to “act quickly” to ensure that appropriate regulations for digital currencies were in place.
Aug 12, 2021: Protos reveals that over two-thirds of all minted USDT went to just two crypto companies: Sam Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research and DRW’s Cumberland Global.
Aug 18, 2021: Protos reveals that Tether personally issued Justin Sun at least 200 million USDT.
October 7, 2021: Celsius Network founder Alex Mashinsky admits to borrowing over one billion USDT and denies ever borrowing US dollars from Tether.
October 15, 2021: CFTC fines Tether and Bitfinex to pay $42.5 million in fines. Tether is fined $41 million for false claims that USDT is fully backed by U.S. Dollars. Bitfinex is fined $1.5 million for illegal transactions on its exchange and violation of a previous CFTC order issued on June 2, 2016.
November 2021: The U.S. President’s Working Group on Financial Markets reports on stablecoins, expressing concerns about “bank runs” that could destroy the value of stablecoins like Tether.
Nov 10, 2021: Protos names the recipients of 70% of all USDT ever issued.
December 8, 2021: Senator Brad Sherman chastises Tether executives for not attending a Senate hearing about crypto.
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Edit 09:51 UTC, Dec 30: Removed reference to an initial coin offering in Oct 6, 2014 entry.