13 ITINs assigned to Tether USDT — A Perfect Example of Why We Need Unique Token Identifiers


As of June 21, 2021, Tether (USDT) is ranked at position 3 on CoinMarketCap. ITSA has assigned 13 unique token identifiers to Tether and classified each token according to the International Token Classification (ITC). Tether was founded in 2014 as one of the first stable coins — a crypto asset pegged to a popular fiat currency such as the US dollar. The crypto asset was first created on Omni, a platform for creating and trading custom digital assets and currencies on top of the Bitcoin Network. As of today, Tether has reached a total market capitalization of 62B$ and runs on 13 different blockchains proving the need for unique token identifiers such as ITIN.

Authors: Christian Viehof, Maximilan Bruckner

Stable coins cross 100B$ market capitalization

The market capitalisation of Tether has seen it garner year-on-year growth of nearly 2300 per cent from 2.6B$ to 62B$ billion, eclipsing that of all rival stable coins combined. Figure 1 shows Tether’s dominance of the stablecoin market. The total market capitalization of all stable coins combined now exceeds 100B$, according to data from Messari. Tether’s supply on Tron has progressed exponentially and has now surpassed the supply on Ethereum. While Tether is still the preferred stablecoin, USDC has been starting to catch up. Major partnerships with the likes of Visa have accelerated the growth of USDC, along with fears around Tether’s cash reserves. All crypto-native transactions using Visa cards will now be settled in USDC on the Ethereum blockchain, a major step in global stablecoin adoption.

Figure 1: Last year’s aggregate stablecoin market capitalization with Tether (USDT) in blue (Source: https://bit.ly/3vIDpLb)

On Tether’s side, the biggest driving force has been its adoption of the Tron blockchain for cheaper fees and faster transaction times. Since the launch, the supply of USDT on Tron has been exponentially increasing and surpassed supply on Ethereum a few weeks ago. This fast growth can be explained by two major factors. First, stablecoins have seen increased usage in DeFi where users can lend or borrow them via smart contracts. Complex financial systems have been created that result in significant yield for lenders. Additionally, they provide an easy medium of exchange for traders to go in and out of their positions without actually withdrawing their funds or returning to fiat. As a result, traders can trade quickly and mitigate the risks of price fluctuations by keeping their profits in a dollar-pegged asset.

Tether proves need for unique token identifiers

A recent paper published by the European Central Bank (ECB) on the use of DLT in post-trade processes called for more interoperability in post-trade solutions, mentioning a lack of common practices and standards. A section on the identification of assets and tokens in a DLT based system specifically drew attention to the need for a unique token identifier and mentions the International Token Identification Number (ITIN) as an example of an identifier fulfilling some key requirements (you can find the article here).

With the recent surge of new blockchain ecosystems in the field of cloud computing, distributed systems, and decentralized applications (EIN05DA03) such as Solana, Algorand or Matic, various versions of Tether (USDT) have emerged running on different blockchains as application layer tokens. Each of these Tether tokens needs to have an individual ITIN in order to properly identify them. In this framework, we assigned 13 individual ITINs, one to each Tether token, as seen in the Tokenbase list for Tether in figure 2. The current developments in cross-chain interoperability validate the ITIN’s underlying assumption that each token needs to be identified on a token layer instead of an asset layer. Bitcoin and wrapped Bitcoin for example represent the same asset but they still look different from a technological perspective. Bitcoin (BTC) is the native token of the Bitcoin protocol while Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) is an application layer token on top of the Ethereum blockchain. Identifiers such as the ITIN will therefore be a necessity for future digital assets, more specifically for tokenized assets in the form of DLT-based security tokens, which will be sold simultaneously on Ethereum, Stellar, and Tezos.

Figure 2: Tokenbase list with all Tether tokens (Source: https://bit.ly/3zIofcd)

The classification of Tether (Binance) according to the ITC:

Figure 3: The USDT (Binance) Tokenbase entry (Source: https://itin.itsa.global/7B48TSMB5)

Economic Purpose (EEP): Tether (Binance) is listed as a USD-Pegged Payment Token (EEP21PP01USD) due to its design as a means of payment combined with peg to the US Dollar (USD).

Industry Type (EIN): The issuer of Tether (Binance) is active in the field of Payment Services and Infrastructure (EIN06PS).

Technological Setup (TTS): Tether (Binance) is a Binance BEP-20 Standard Token (TTS42ET01). The Class “Binance BEP-20 Standard Token” captures every Token that is implemented by means of the BEP-20 Standard on top of the Binance Smart Chain.

Legal Clam (LLC): Tether (Binance) does entitle its holder with a relative right against the issuing organization, therefore it is listed as a Relative Rights Token (LLC32). Each token represents a claim of one US Dollar against the Issuer, Tether Limited.

Issuer Type (LIT): The dimension “Issuer Type” provides information on the nature of the issuer of the token. Tether (Binance) has been issued by Tether Limited, a company owned by Bitfinex. It’s Issuer Type is a Private Sector Legal Entity (LIT61PV).

Regulatory Framework (EU) (REU): The dimension “Regulatory Status EU” provides information of the potential classification of a token according to the European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA, Regulation Proposal COM/2020/593 final). Tether (Binance) qualifies as Non-Authorized Significant E-Money Token (REU51EM12) according to the definition provided in Article 3 (4) of Regulation (EU) 2019/1937.

The International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) e.V.

The International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) e.V. is a not-for-profit association of German law that aims at promoting the development and implementation of comprehensive market standards for the identification, classification, and analysis of DLT- and blockchain-based cryptographic tokens. As an independent industry membership body, ITSA unites over 100 international associated founding members from various interest groups. In order to increase transparency and safety on global token markets, ITSA currently develops and implements the International Token Identification Number (ITIN) as a market standard for the identification of cryptographic tokens, the International Token Classification (ITC) as a standard framework for the classification of cryptographic tokens according to their inherent characteristics. ITSA then adds the identified and classified token to the world’s largest register for tokens in our Tokenbase.

  • The International Token Identification Number (ITIN) is a 9-digit alphanumeric technical identifier for both fungible and non-fungible DLT-based tokens. Thanks to its underlying Uniform Token Locator (UTL), ITIN presents a unique and fork-resilient identification of tokens. The ITIN also allows for the connecting and matching of other media and data to the token, such as legal contracts or price data, and increases safety and operational transparency when handling these tokens.
  • The International Token Classification (ITC) is a multi-dimensional, expandable framework for the classification of tokens. Current dimensions include technological, economic, legal, and regulatory dimensions with multiple sub-dimensions. By mid-2021, there will be at least two new dimensions added, including a tax dimension. So far, our classification framework has been applied to 99% of the token market according to market capitalization of classified tokens.
  • ITSA’s Tokenbase currently holds data on over 4000 tokens. Tokenbase is a holistic database for the analysis of tokens and combines our identification and classification data with market and blockchain data from external providers. Third-party data of several partners is already integrated, and API access is also in development.


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Christian Viehof is an Executive Director at the International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) e.V., working to create the world’s largest token database including a classification framework and unique token identifiers and locators. He completed his Bachelor in Economics at the University of Bonn, the Hong Kong University and the London School of Economics and Political Science with a focus on Behavioral Economics and Finance. Currently pursuing his Master of Finance at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, you can contact him via christian.viehof@itsa.global and connect with him on Linkedin, if you would like to further discuss ITSA e.V. or have any open questions.

Maximilian Bruckner is Executive Director at the International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) e.V., working to create the world’s largest token database including a classification framework and unique token identifiers and locators. He has a strong international background with significant time spent in Spain, South Africa, and Canada. Currently pursuing studies at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, you can contact him via maximilian.bruckner@itsa.global and connect on LinkedIn if you would like to further discuss ITSA e.V. or have any other open questions.



International Token Standardization Association

The International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) is a not for profit organization working on holistic market standards for the global token economy.