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Cryptosphere Courts Gold Bugs as Bitcoin Loses Some Luster

The cryptocurrency world is seeing a surge in the issuance of gold-backed tokens, with some of the digital-asset industry’s biggest and most controversial participants joining in on the fresh gold rush.

The throng behind the Tether stablecoin and the Bitfinex trading platform plan to issue Tether Gold before Christmas. The token will be backed 100% by bullion reserves, according to Paolo Ardoino, who serves as chief technology officer for Bitfinex and Tether.

“Current macro-finance uncertainty brings the need of traditional instruments to hedge risk of our customers, especially in the crypto-industry,” the London-based Ardoino said in an email. “Gold has been, historically, an important asset for risk contingency.”

While Bitcoin has been touted as “digital gold” pretty much since its 2009 debut, more crypto participants are now emphasizing the hedging possibilities of the actual precious metal. Paxos debuted Paxos Gold in September, and CoinShares Group launched a gold token in October, bringing the number of gold-related tokens to more than 20.

Gold holds steady as Bitcoin swings wildly

“Gold tokens are appealing due to a confluence of events: Weakening real interest rates and weakening national currencies combined with increasing regulatory clarity around non-security tokens and the natural appeal of gold to investors,” said Danny Masters, chairman of London-based CoinShares.

One of main selling points for the crop of new gold digital coins is ease of trading, compared with owning actual gold bars, which need to be stored or held by custodians. Crypto alternatives will still provide custody services, but with the flexibility that comes with the decentralized-ledger system known as blockchain.

Bitfinex is exploring new products as its trading volume slows, a trend seen across most crypto exchanges. Bitcoin, the industry bellwether, has traded in a fairly narrow range since June. Volume on some Bitfinex-listed coins has dropped as much as 10% since early summer, according to data researchers Coin Metrics and Bitcoinity.

“This could be a function of Binance’s launch of futures, the rise of newer exchanges like FTX and Deribit, or just wariness of regulators and their ongoing back and forth with the exchange,” said Nic Carter, co-founder of Coin Metrics.

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