USDC Overview: Your Exclusive Guide for 2024

CryptoCryptocurrency Reviews
Tags: Best cryptocurrency to buy, Cryptocurrency review

Presently, USD Coin holds the distinction of being the second-largest stablecoin, boasting a current market capitalization of $73 billion. In tandem with Tether (USDT), USD Coin collectively commands an 80% share of the global stablecoin market capitalization. This prevalence underscores the significant role these stablecoins play in providing a reliable and consistent digital representation of traditional fiat currency, facilitating seamless transactions, and offering stability in the volatile realm of cryptocurrencies.

True to its nomenclature, USD Coin is a cryptocurrency explicitly pegged to the U.S. dollar, making it a stablecoin. The fundamental characteristic of a stablecoin is its ability to maintain a consistent value, with one USDC perpetually equivalent to one U.S. dollar.

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Exploring the Dynamics

Introduced in 2018 under the stewardship of Centre, a consortium jointly established by Circle and Coinbase, USD Coin represents a regulated stablecoin operating on blockchain technology.

Stablecoins, exemplified by USD Coin, are a distinctive category of cryptocurrencies tethered to the value of another asset, be it a fiat currency, a commodity, or even another digital currency. The primary objective is to sustain a steadfast one-to-one peg with the U.S. dollar, diverging from the inherent price volatility observed in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH).

Unlike cryptocurrencies subject to market fluctuations, USD Coin serves a singular purpose: to provide a stable store of value. Its value remains resilient against the market’s oscillations, in stark contrast to assets like Bitcoin, which have experienced a year-to-date return of -35% at the time of writing. In comparison, the value of USDC has demonstrated remarkable stability throughout the year, with minimal fluctuations. Even during the lowest trading point within the past 52 weeks, USDC experienced only a marginal dip below its dollar peg, reaching $0.995. This resilience underscores the core function of USD Coin as a reliable and unwavering digital representation of traditional fiat currency.

Distinctive Features

While U.S. dollar stablecoins generally share the common goal of maintaining a value of $1 and facilitating seamless digital currency transfers, USD Coin stands out for its unique characteristics, emphasizing transparency and trustworthiness.

A pivotal aspect that sets it apart is its commitment to transparency. A reputable accounting firm, Grant Thornton, LLP, issues monthly reports on the cryptocurrency’s management on behalf of Centre, the consortium in charge of USD Coin. These reports meticulously detail the number of USDCs in circulation and the total value of reserves supporting USD Coin. This commitment to regular reporting assures users that there are tangible funds in reserve for every unit of USDC, fostering trust in the stability of the stablecoin.

Additionally, USD Coin distinguishes itself by the nature of its backing. While some stablecoins rely on a variety of financial instruments, USD Coin’s reserves exclusively comprise U.S. Treasury securities and cash deposits. This singular focus on secure and tangible assets further enhances the stability and reliability, reinforcing its standing as a transparent and trustworthy stablecoin within the cryptocurrency landscape.

The Genesis of the USD Coin

USD Coin, conceived as a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar, emerged from the collaboration between Circle, a peer-to-peer payments company, and Coinbase Global, a cryptocurrency exchange. The groundwork for USD Coin was laid when Circle announced its plans to launch the stablecoin on May 15, 2018, a venture that attracted $110 million in funding.

To oversee the management, the Center Consortium was established in the same year, marking its inception in 2018. The launch materialized on September 26, 2018, with Coinbase offering USDC to its users. Circle and Coinbase, as the founding members, played instrumental roles in the creation and introduction of USD Coin.

The journey unfolded with its inaugural report in October 2018, revealing approximately 127 million USDC in circulation. Over the subsequent years, the stablecoin experienced significant growth, reaching a staggering circulation of more than 55 billion in 2022. This trajectory underscores the evolution and widespread adoption of USD Coin in the cryptocurrency market since its inception.

The Mechanism 

The open-source fiat stablecoin framework that powers USD Coin is from Centre. The system involves a tokenization process, where new USDC tokens are minted upon purchase and removed from circulation when individuals sell their tokens for U.S. dollars. The three-step tokenization process unfolds as follows:

  1. Purchase of USD Coin:
    • Individuals send U.S. dollars to a cryptocurrency exchange to acquire USD Coin.
    • The exchange employs a USD Coin smart contract to mint an equivalent amount of USD Coin.
    • The purchaser receives the newly minted USD Coin, and the U.S. dollars paid are placed into the reserves for USD Coin.
  2. Tokenization Process:
    • The smart contract mechanism ensures that there are reserves backing the entire supply of USD Coin.

For those looking to sell, the process is reversed:

  1. Sale of USD Coin:
    • Individuals sell USD Coin on a cryptocurrency exchange.
    • The exchange uses a smart contract to remove the USDC tokens from circulation.
    • The equivalent amount in U.S. dollars is then paid from the reserves to the seller.

This comprehensive tokenization process not only facilitates the creation and removal of USD Coin but also guarantees that each unit of the stablecoin is backed by tangible reserves, ensuring its stability and value retention tied to the U.S. dollar.

USD Coin vs. Tether: Navigating the Stablecoin Landscape

When considering the choice between USD Coin and Tether (USDT), the two largest stablecoins by market cap, you might wonder if there’s a significant difference or if they are interchangeable. While both stablecoins generally maintain a value of $1 and serve similar purposes, each has distinct advantages.

USD Coin (USDC):

  • Advantages:
    • Transparency: USD Coin is widely regarded as the safer option due to its commitment to transparency. Since its launch, its management has consistently provided reports verifying its reserves.
    • Regulatory Oversight: USDC benefits from increased regulatory oversight, being considered a stored-value instrument in most U.S. states. This regulatory scrutiny provides an additional layer of security for investors.

Tether (USDT):

  • Advantages:
    • Size and Trading Volume: Tether holds a considerable edge in terms of size, boasting a larger market cap and higher trading volume than USD Coin. This makes Tether more liquid and potentially more accessible for trading into other cryptocurrencies.


  • Transparency Challenges: Tether Limited, the company behind Tether, has faced criticism for a lack of transparency. For years, it did not disclose information about its reserves, leading to legal challenges and allegations of unbacked issuances causing damage to the crypto market.
  • Regulatory Oversight and Audits: While USD Coin is subject to regulatory oversight, Tether has not undergone independent audits, contributing to concerns about its transparency and financial backing.

In essence, while both stablecoins share common functionalities, USD Coin is often viewed as the more secure option due to its transparency and regulatory adherence. Tether, with its size advantage, may offer increased liquidity for trading but faces scrutiny regarding its transparency and lack of independent audits. Choosing between them ultimately depends on individual preferences and priorities in the realm of stability, transparency, and regulatory compliance.

USD Coin’s Strategic Partnerships and Network Integration

USD Coin (USDC) has strategically forged partnerships that position it for significant expansion as both a payment method and a cryptocurrency. Notable collaborations include:

  1. Robinhood Partnership (September 2022):
    • The renowned commission-free cryptocurrency trading platform Robinhood introduced USD Coin as its first stablecoin. This partnership allows investors to purchase without incurring additional fees, potentially attracting those seeking cost-effective stablecoin transactions.
  2. Visa Partnership (December 2020):
    • Circle partnered with Visa, enabling businesses on the Visa network to accept USDC. This integration broadens the utility as a payment method within the Visa ecosystem.
  3. Mastercard Integration (July 2021):
    • Mastercard announced plans to incorporate USDC as a payment method, further solidifying its presence within major payment networks.
  4. Payment Processors Support (2022):
    • Leading payment processors, including Stripe and Checkout.com, announced their support for USD Coin in 2022, enhancing its accessibility and usability in various transactions.

USD Coin’s widespread usage is also attributed to its compatibility across multiple blockchains. Developers can seamlessly swap between diverse blockchains, contributing to its versatility. The blockchains integrated into the USD network include the following:

This extensive network integration ensures that USD Coin remains adaptable and interoperable across various blockchain ecosystems, further enhancing its utility and appeal within the cryptocurrency landscape.

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Transparency and Mechanics of USDC

USDC is often regarded as a safer stablecoin due to the high level of transparency surrounding its collateral reserves. The transparency measures implemented by the Center, in collaboration with auditors and government regulations, provide a clear and open description of the reserves backing the stablecoin’s peg to the U.S. dollar.

Key aspects of transparency and the mechanics of USDC include:

  1. Monthly Reports and Attestations:
    • Grant Thornton, an auditing firm, releases attestations for USDC, disclosing the reserve balances and ensuring transparency.
    • Circle, the issuer of USDC, announced plans to provide weekly attestation reports starting in May 2022, offering regular updates on the reserves backing the stablecoin.
  2. Minting and Burning Mechanism:
    • When an individual buys 1 USDC, a new USDC is minted.
    • When selling 1 USDC for fiat currency, the coin undergoes a “burning” process during the transaction.
  3. Divisibility and Withdrawal Limits:
    • Similar to the U.S. dollar, USDC is divisible, allowing holdings down to 0.000001 USDC.
    • Coinbase, a major crypto exchange, sets a withdrawal limit of 0.001 USDC, and there is a maximum withdrawal limit of 15,000,000 USDC.
  4. Market Interaction and Availability:
    • Participants in the digital asset market can interact with or acquire USDC through trading USDC-denominated pairs on exchanges or by directly interacting with USDC’s issuer.
    • USDC provides liquidity to crypto markets and is available on various blockchain networks, including Ethereum, Algorand (ALGO), Solana (SOL), and TRON (TRX).
    • Notably, USDC is an ERC-20 utility token, adhering to Ethereum’s standard for creating smart contracts on its network.

These transparency measures, combined with the mechanics of minting, burning, and divisibility, contribute to the trustworthiness and reliability of USD Coin within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

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USDC as a Non-Investment

USD Coin is not designed as an investment vehicle in the traditional sense. It operates as a stablecoin, and its primary purpose is to maintain a stable value pegged to the U.S. dollar. Here are key points to consider:

  1. Stable Value:
    • USD Coin is not expected to generate returns or price appreciation. Its value is intended to remain stable, akin to holding U.S. dollars.
  2. Usage Over Investment:
    • The advantage lies more in its utility for transactions and transfers than in expecting investment gains.
  3. Comparison to Cash:
    • Investing in USD Coin is comparable to holding U.S. dollars in a traditional sense, and the investment’s value does not exceed the equivalent cash value.
  4. Potential for Passive Income:
    • While holding may not generate returns, some platforms offer opportunities for passive income by lending USDC to other crypto investors. This involves earning interest on the lent USDC. However, it comes with associated risks, as with any lending arrangement.
  5. Primary Goal:
    • The primary goal is to facilitate faster and more cost-effective currency transfers, eliminating the need for traditional intermediaries like banks. It serves as a stable and reliable cryptocurrency for various transactions.

Investors should be aware that the risk associated with USDC, particularly when engaging in lending programs, introduces a level of risk. Despite this, the overall purpose of USD Coin is aligned with facilitating efficient and stable transactions rather than serving as a speculative investment. Individuals seeking potential returns and price appreciation may explore other investment options within the broader cryptocurrency market.