what is USDC

USD Coin is a popular stablecoin used extensively in the crypto market alongside USDT, BUSD, and the like. Stablecoins are a mix of regular cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies. They don’t have any central bank or government backing, but they are backed by dollar-denominated assets, e.g., U.S. Treasury Securities, which are stored in a digital wallet on your hardware device.

USD Coin acts as a bridge between fiat currency and cryptocurrency. In this article, you’ll learn more about what USD Coin is, how it works, the differences between USDC and USD, and its pros and cons.

What Is USD Coin (USDC)?

USD Coin (USDC) is a stablecoin— a cryptocurrency pegged to the value of a stable asset to minimize price volatility— designed to provide a digital alternative to fiat currency and less volatile than other digital currencies. It was formed and issued in 2018 by Centre Consortium, a partnership between Circle and Coinbase, as an alternative to the dollar.

Circle is a financial services company that provides various products and services for businesses and individuals. Coinbase is a crypto exchange that allows users to sell and buy a variety of cryptocurrencies. Together, both companies saw the potential of stablecoins in bridging the gap between traditional finance and cryptocurrency, thus creating the Centre Consortium— a non-profit organization that oversees the development and maintenance of the USDC stablecoin.

The Centre Consortium runs an open-source protocol for creating and collecting USDC, which can be integrated into other platforms, wallets, and applications. This allows other third parties to issue their USDCs as long as they comply with the Consortium’s rules and regulations.

USDC is built on the Ethereum blockchain, which encourages its decentralization and digitization. It can be used for a variety of purposes, including making purchases, trading on cryptocurrency exchanges, and participating in decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols.

The most important thing to know about USD Coin is that it works very differently from traditional currencies like U.S. dollars and Euros. It doesn’t have any central bank or government backing; instead, it’s backed by dollar-denominated assets like U.S. Treasury securities, which are stored in a digital wallet on your computer or phone—just like a typical cryptocurrency would be. You can buy, sell, and trade USDC just like Bitcoin or Ethereum (or other cryptocurrencies).

USDC has gained plenty of traction in the crypto community, and many exchanges, wallets, and platforms now support it. As a result, it is one of the most popular stablecoins on the market, with many merchants accepting it as a form of payment and having high trading volumes on crypto exchanges. It is also used as collateral in decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, where it is considered a low-risk asset.

How Does USD Coin Work?

Though USD Coin can be supported on different blockchains, it is run mainly on the Ethereum blockchain. It utilizes the Ethereum blockchain’s technical standards for smart contracts. This allows it to be interoperable with various decentralized applications (dApps) and protocols on the Ethereum network.

The value of 1 USDC is equivalent to 1 U.S. dollar. This stability is monitored by authorized financial institutions transparently holding U.S. dollar reserves. These institutions also regularly publish audits of their U.S. dollar reserves, ensuring that the value of USDC remains the same as the U.S. dollar.

Creating and redeeming USDC is called “minting” and “redeeming.” Minting means making USDC by exchanging US dollars for an equivalent amount of USDC while redeeming is trading USDC for an equal amount of US dollars. This process is managed by authorized financial institutions and is designed to ensure that the total supply of USDC matches the amount of US dollars held in reserve.

USDC transactions are confirmed and stored on the Ethereum blockchain through smart contracts. A smart contract is a self-executing contract in which all terms of the agreement are embedded directly into the code of the contract. This ensures that all transactions are secure, transparent, and tamper-proof.

Asides from being a stable store of value, USDC also offers many key benefits. Firstly, USDC can be easily integrated with other decentralized applications and protocols on the Ethereum network, making it a versatile option for those looking to participate in the DeFi ecosystem.

Furthermore, USDC offers a high degree of transparency, as the smart contract code is open source, and the financial institutions holding the US dollar reserves are regularly audited. This helps to ensure that the system is secure and trustworthy.

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What Is The Difference Between USDC And U.S. Dollar?

USD (United States Dollar) is the official currency of the United States of America, issued and regulated by the Federal Reserve System (the central bank of the United States). It is a fiat currency fully backed by the government and can be used as legal tender for all debts and taxes. USD is accepted globally for various transactions, including trade, investment, and cross-border remittances.

On the other hand, USDC (USD Coin) is a type of stablecoin designed to maintain a stable value relative to the US dollar. It runs on the Ethereum blockchain, utilizing smart contract technology to manage transactions and ensure security and transparency. The value of USDC is pegged to the US dollar at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that 1 USDC is equivalent to 1 US dollar. USDC’s U.S. dollar reserves are held by authorized financial institutions and are regularly audited to ensure their stability.

One of the key differences between USD and USDC is their centralization versus decentralization. USD is issued and regulated by a central authority (the Federal Reserve System), while USDC operates on a decentralized blockchain network, making it harder to be inferred upon or manipulated by a central authority. Decentralization also offers USDC faster, cheaper, and more secure transactions than fiat currencies like USD.

Another difference is the level of transparency. USD transactions are recorded in centralized financial institutions and can be subject to privacy concerns, while the Ethereum blockchain records USDC transactions publicly and can be audited by anyone. This transparency helps to make sure that USDC maintains its stability and security.

USDC is readily accessible compared to USD, as it can be easily stored, transferred, and traded globally 24/7 without intermediaries or banks. This is particularly useful for individuals and businesses in countries with less developed financial systems, as it offers an alternative to traditional banking services.

Overall, USD and USDC are both unique and advantageous in their rights. USD is a globally accepted fiat currency backed by a central authority and is suitable for a variety of transactions, while USDC is a decentralized stablecoin that offers faster, cheaper, and more secure transactions, as well as higher transparency and accessibility.

Pros And Cons Of USDC

All cryptocurrencies have pros and cons, and USD Coin is no exception. Examples of pros and cons of USD Coin to consider before investing:

Pros 👍
  • Stability: USDC is directly proportional to the US dollar, providing stability and reducing the volatility commonly associated with cryptocurrencies.
  • Transparency: As an open-source project on the Ethereum blockchain, USDC promotes transparency in its issuance, reserve management, and transaction history.
  • Acceptability: The primary goal of USDC is to be used in paying for goods and services, trading on crypto exchanges, and sending funds across borders.
  • Security: USDC benefits from the security features of the Ethereum blockchain, such as decentralized consensus and cryptographic algorithms.
Cons 👎
  • Centralization: USDC is issued by centralized entities, which might raise concerns about its transparency and security.
  • Limited use cases: Although USDC can be used for various transactions, it is primarily used as a stablecoin, thus limiting its utility for some users.
  • Dependency on the U.S. dollar: USDC’s value is tied to the U.S. dollar, which can experience devaluation and inflation, thus affecting USDC’s value.
  • Complexity: For users unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies, USDC and the Ethereum blockchain may not be easy to understand and use, limiting its adoption.

Is USDC A Good Investment?

As with all cryptocurrency investments, it is essential to do your research and understand investment risks. However, as an insight, here are some factors to consider before deciding if USDC is worth investing in:

  • Market conditions: While USDC is a stablecoin, it may still be affected by a general market downturn.
  • Investment goals: Depending on what your investment goals are, USDC is designed to provide stability and reduce volatility. This may be great if you’re looking for a stable investment or looking to hedge funds against the general volatility of the crypto market. 
  • Regulatory environment: The regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies is constantly evolving, and future changes could impact the value of USDC.
  • Risk tolerance: Cryptocurrency investments are considered high-risk investments, and USDC is no exception. Investors should only invest what they can afford to lose.

Research and understanding risk factors are important before making any investment. It is also advised to consult professional crypto/finance advisers to help you further understand the nature of the coin you want to invest in.


Updated on: January 31, 2023