Tethering your way to financial freedom: insights from Tether's CTO Paolo Ardoino on Tether use cases

Thursday 9 March 2023 07:44 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Interview

Paolo Ardoino, Tether's CTO, dives into the world of web3 finance with Plan ₿, the Tether stablecoin, and Keet - a cutting-edge P2P messaging app that champions freedom of communications.

Paolo Ardoino has always been passionate about computers. He started coding at the age of eight and later enrolled in the University of Genoa’s computer science program, from which he graduated in 2008. While conducting research for a military project, Ardoino became deeply involved with cryptography and discovered distributed systems. In 2012, he read the Bitcoin white paper and was inspired by the idea that people could take care of their own wealth without banks or other intermediaries, and that the millions of unbanked and underbanked worldwide could have access to financial services. Ardoino started with major crypto trading platform Bitfinex in 2014 as a senior software developer, and after two years, he was promoted to chief technology officer. He also serves as chief technology officer of Tether — the largest stablecoin by market capitalisation, and in 2022 co-founded Holepunch, a fully unstoppable, highly-resilient P2P communication platform.

Tether is contributing its expertise, knowledge and support to the City of Lugano focusing on the education of the new generations through collaborations with local universities and research institutes, one example was Plan ₿ Summer School hosted in July 2022, an initiative for university-level students to allow participants to work with leading industry minds on developing blockchain prototypes and deepening their understanding of the technology.

The strong focus on education also includes a broad debate on topics as relevant to our society as the right to privacy, inclusion, and freedom (individual freedom, freedom of speech and financial freedom). This is precisely the direction in which the next edition of the Lugano’s Plan ₿ Forum is headed.


I'd love to hear more about the latest developments with Plan B Lugano and the Plan B Forum that happened at the end of October 2022. Could you share with us any updates and results from the forum?

In 2022, Plan ₿ Foundation – a joint initiative between the City of Lugano and Tether, the technology company supporting the blockchain-enabled platform that powers the largest stablecoin by market capitalisation (USD₮) – announced a collaboration with GoCrypto to officially bring Bitcoin, Tether, and LVGA payments to the city of Lugano. Plan ₿ aims to set up a user-friendly blockchain-based infrastructure that will support crypto payments on all Lugano levels, from small and medium-sized merchants to larger companies and even public services.

Plan B Forum went better than even what we expected; we had a lot of success, and we got a lot of recognition around the globe. Also, the merchants’ trials of using Tether as a payment method are working well. More than 100 different local shops are fully enabled to accept Tether. Besides the Forum, we organise constant (monthly) local community events that bring more merchants to understand what we're doing and learn about how Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies work works. We, of course, are educating them on cryptocurrency.

Furthermore, education is the best method to enable the public to distinguish between investing with crypto and using crypto as a payment rail or a payment method payment. Are you holding on to crypto hoping to make more money or you're holding on to crypto to transact and trade, allow people to buy your product, acquire the product for your shop, and so on? As a merchant, you just need to have a way to get paid, you need the mean of payment. We are collaborating with GoCrypto to offer crypto payment solutions to merchants. Customers can pay with any crypto wallet that supports Bitcoin, Tether, and LVGA. The entire crypto payment process is extremely simple, resembling card payments and merchants don’t require any crypto knowledge to use the crypto-friendly POS terminal.


Despite the negative press we had around crypto, Tether USDT processed USD 18.2 trillion in transactions in 2022, placing it ahead of traditional payment processors such as Visa and Mastercard. In comparison, Mastercard and Visa processed transactions worth USD 14.1 trillion and USD 7.7 trillion, respectively. What is the reason behind this huge adoption rate?

Since its inception in 2014, Tether has been the most trusted coin in the crypto industry. Despite the negative press surrounding companies like FTX, Three Arrows, and Voyager, it's important to have a reliable and trustworthy entity in the industry. Tether has been a constant in the crypto industry since 2014 and continues to be a reliable option for customers. Unfortunately, many other companies in the industry have failed due to greed, with team members attempting to use their customers' money for their own gain. At Tether, we prioritise our customers and remain committed to our job, providing a stable and dependable option in the industry.


Please explain briefly how Tether works and its connection to Bitfinex.

Tether, the largest stablecoin in the market, is owned by iFinex, a Hong Kong-based company that also owns the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange. While Bitfinex serves as a trading platform, Tether acts as a stablecoin. Tether's strength lies in its full backing by reserve treasury bills in the US. With over 40 billion dollars in US Treasury bills, Tether has high liquidity and no algorithms behind it. In contrast, algorithmic stablecoins have a history of being problematic and prone to failure. Therefore, the Tether team believes that stablecoins should be backed by assets representing the fiat currency they represent.

Tether is the preeminent stablecoin and a pioneer for financial freedom and innovation. Created in October 2014, Tether has grown to become the most traded cryptocurrency, surpassing that of all rival offerings combined. Tether is disrupting the legacy financial system by offering a more modern approach to money. By introducing fiat currency-digital cash to Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS, Kusama, Liquid, Near, Polkadot, Tron, Solana blockchains Tezos, and Algorand blockchains, as well as smart contract platform, Avalanche, Tether makes a significant contribution to a more connected ecosystem. Tether combines digital currency benefits, such as instant global transactions, with traditional currency benefits, such as price stability. With a commitment to transparency and compliance, Tether is a fast and low-cost way to transact with money.


If you are to focus on geography, what are the areas where is more used?

When it comes to the geographical spread of transactions, Tether is most used in South America, Africa, and Asia. We are not so much strong in the US, and we are not much strong in Europe.


Is technology for payments, does it consider human rights, vulnerable groups, and all this information? What do you think?

We believe that Tether embodies our core values and principles. Tether has been widely adopted in various regions, including Myanmar, Africa, and emerging markets, to circumvent government policies and inflation, and even to facilitate remittances. By using Tether, people can save money and reduce inflation, which is especially useful in countries where the local currency is weak. Tether has also allowed Latin Americans to access global markets and escape from inflated local currencies. The launch of MXNt, a stablecoin pegged to the Mexican peso, is paving the way for fiat-backed Tethers globally.

Furthermore, Tether is committed to advocating for underrepresented communities. To achieve this goal, Tether has launched  Keet, a peer-to-peer video calling application that does not require central servers and prioritizes privacy. Keet is a communication social media tool that removes intermediaries from the communication world, allowing for more private and high-quality video chats. By removing intermediaries from communication, we hope to enable freedom of communication and payments for people around the world.


Social media has been and continues to be, a key component of web2 and many people’s lives. It is a primary way of connecting, communicating, and working with a lot of people. I recently listened to an 11 F:S podcast, and with web3 becoming more and more prominent, they were discussing how will social media transform and adapt to this new environment. how do you see this web3? What is it first for you and how do you see developing?

The concept of web3 lacks a concrete definition, as different people have varying interpretations of it. While some view it solely as NFTs or the metaverse, I believe web3 is a means to regain control of personal data. Currently, technology giants hold a monopoly over user data, and they use it to generate revenue. As they require more data to sustain their operations, it becomes increasingly difficult for individuals to retain ownership of their information. The goal of web3 is to shift this control back to users.

However, it's crucial to differentiate between projects that genuinely seek to disrupt the status quo and those that merely offer token sales. Our app, Keet, is an example of the former. It allows users to communicate privately with their friends, without relying on servers or token sales. Profit is acceptable, provided that it stems from offering a valuable service, rather than merely holding a token.


About Paolo Ardoino

Paolo Ardoino began coding at age eight and graduated from the University of Genoa’s computer science program in 2008. Fascinated by cryptography and distributed systems, he discovered Bitcoin in 2012 and joined Bitfinex two years later. Ardoino is currently the CTO of Bitfinex and Tether, the largest stablecoin by market capitalisation. In 2022, he co-founded Holepunch, a P2P communication platform.


About Tether

Tether, the leading stablecoin, disrupts traditional finance by providing a modern approach to money. It offers instant global transactions and price stability by combining digital currency benefits with traditional currency. Tether operates on major blockchains, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana, and is committed to transparency and compliance.

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Keywords: cryptocurrency, cryptocurrency exchange, crypto asset, Bitcoin, stablecoin, financial inclusion, web3
Categories: DeFi & Crypto & Web3
Companies: Tether
Countries: World
This article is part of category

DeFi & Crypto & Web3


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