Bittrex’ CEO Bill Shihara recently gave an interview in which he shared some valuable details on the franchise’ direction in 2018. Aside from explaining the signup freeze and Bittrex’ beginnings, he addressed Atomic Swaps and the impact they might have on Bittrex and other exchanges. Most importantly, however, he mentioned that the exchange would likely be allowing users to deposit US Dollars directly and possibly dropping USDT trading pairs.
Tether Treads on Dangerous Territory
For months, the community has been asking for a full audit of Tether’s operation. Circulated USDT expanded parabolically throughout Bitcoin’s rise to $20k, causing many to question whether or not the company held US dollars in escrow in a 1:1 ratio as it claimed. Despite widespread demands from the community, Tether refuses to open its books to the public. Now it has drawn the watchful eye of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and has been subpoenaed for investigation. A hearing has yet to be arranged, but let’s hope it happens soon.
The market hangs in the balance awaiting further details, as a Tether collapse would incinerate over $2.2 billion in capital overnight. Not only would many traders lose their ‘cash’ they believed was stored in safety, but it would strike a blow to investor confidence and further taint the image of the already suffering crypto space. The mainstream media has managed to convince much of the public that crypto spawns little more than black market operatives and scamsters, and this certainly wouldn’t help.
With this in mind, Bittrex is taking the safe approach. It may have insider information on Tether to an extent, or it may be laying precautionary plans, but at any rate it looks like Tether may lose one of its strongest partners. This could be the first of many exchanges to discontinue USDT support, and it will be interesting to see if and how they roll out the changes. Presumably holders of USDT will be given a window to convert the currency into another. You do not want to be holding USDT at this point.
USD Direct Deposits
Perhaps the most exciting revelation was Bittrex’ interest in opening up direct account funding through USD deposit. Investors have been waiting ages for a solid alternative to the likes of Coinbase, and now it may finally be upon us. The effect this has on Coinbase will depend on the fee structure it implements and is yet to be determined. Shihara did mention that he planned to continue to target experienced and institutional investors at Bittrex, and this will continue to set it apart from Coinbase.
If USDT pairs are dropped, that will leave only Bitcoin and Ether pairs. This beckons two questions: 1) Will it be possible to buy some coins/tokens directly with USD? 2) Is a LTC trading pair out of the question?
Fiat-Crypto Direct Purchases
The ability to make direct fiat-crypto purchases is a massive draw for novice investors, and the leading reason why Coinbase enjoys such popularity. Introducing this feature would make the acquisition process much more transparent.
For now, many investors make their first crypto purchase on Coinbase before transferring to Coinbase, Binance, or another exchange to diversify into altcoins. Setting up multiple accounts, paying multiple fees, and learning multiple user interfaces is enough of a hassle that it alienates many potential investors (I know this from conversations with dozens of investors I’ve recruited into the crypto space). Although it is a relatively easy process, it feels wrong, and is just enough to keep them at bay. Streamlining the process will undoubtedly have a net positive effect on growing the community.
Exploring the Idea of LTC Pairs
Before we really get into this, here is a disclaimer: Shihara said nothing in the interview to suggest LTC pairs might be coming. This is purely speculation. While the odds are certainly against it, it is a possibility, and I’ll provide reasons.
Historically, Bittrex has carried 3 trading pairs: BTC/ETH/USDT. This ensured that any investor could acquire their favorite altcoins with relative ease. Altcoins have been expanding their ecosystems at unprecedented paces (Litepay entering the scene, ETH adding more tokens than I can count, etc.), however, and BTC network issues (backlog/insane fees) have incurred collateral damage on that front (i.e. Steam dropping BTC payments, Microsoft temp halting BTC payments). In other words, some coins have developed passionate sub-communities that would welcome a native altcoin outlet. If Bittrex drops the USDT pair and is looking to again complete the trifecta, LTC would be the next logical option. It is one of the longest standing coins with a shill-free history and solid, sustained growth. As a result it has one of the largest committed communities who would rally behind a LTC pair. Most importantly, it is shepherded by Charlie Lee, one of crypto’s most renowned figureheads and top developers. He commands enough respect to get things done when he inclines his mind.
On December 20th he greeted us with this tweet foreshadowing 2018 developments:
As I see it, Litepay could fulfill the merchant processor promise. That leaves three remaining. Let’s hope the goods trading platform is Amazon. What I’d like to focus on is the “huge unexpected surprise.” What could that be?
When I first read the tweet I lost my mind mulling over the possibilities (I have an LTC position). What could be huge enough that he would scarcely even allude to it publicly? Ultimately I settled on LTC trading pairs. That would be HUGE and equally unexpected. Right? You probably don’t believe it reading this now.
I can’t promise you this will come to pass, but if there is a chance, I will cling to it. At any rate, 2018 is sure to be an exciting year for crypto, and Litecoin will be an integral part of it!
What do you think? Is this a possibility? What do you think the impact would be? Let us know in the comments!
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