Millions in Crypto Is Crossing the Russia-China Border Daily. There, Tether Is King

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The TakeawayThe cash-counting machines were softly buzzing in an office with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Moscow’s landmarks.“Hear that sound?” asked the head of an over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency trading desk — let’s call him ‘Oleg’ — who requested his real name and company be withheld. “You can hear it 24/7 in here.”Business is brisk thanks to a constant flow of Chinese merchants who come in daily with heavy bags of cash. Oleg said his OTC desk sells about $3 million worth of crypto every day. Most of it usually goes to China. But what’s perhaps most surprising is crypto.Only 20 percent of Oleg’s sales are in bitcoin, the oldest cryptocurrency with the largest market capitalization. The other 80 percent is in the dollar-pegged token known as tether, or USDT.Tether’s best-known application is allowing crypto traders to move money between exchanges quickly to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities. But according to several Moscow…

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