90% of Ethereum, Tron, Solana Stablecoin Transactions Are ‘Inorgranic Activity’, Visa Says

Nearly all stablecoin transactions are tied to “inorganic activity,” according to payments giant Visa and enterprise blockchain data provider Allium.

The companies have launched a new data dashboard designed “to remove potential distortions that can arise from inorganic activity and other artificial inflationary practices,” and its adjusted figures reveal upwards of 90% of tracked transactions occur without human involvement.

The dashboard tracks Tether’s eponymous USDT, Circle’s USDC, Paxos’s USDP, and PayPal’s PYUSD. All of them are pegged 1:1 to the U.S. dollar and keep cash or cash-like (U.S. treasury bonds) reserves to back their tokens. Visa doesn’t attribute the “inorganic activity” to any particular stablecoin, but comparing the adjusted and unadjusted figures casts a stark light on just how infrequently humans are the ones initiating stablecoin payments.

For example, Visa reports that $51.6 billion worth of stablecoin transactions were processed on Sunday, May 5. That’s the unadjusted figure. When the data is adjusted to remove so-called inorganic activity, the number plummets to $4.6 billion.

The Visa data analysis was conducted, at least in part, in response to a Coin Metrics chart making the rounds on Twitter claiming that stablecoin were catching up with established settlement networks.

In a blog post last week, Visa’s head of crypto, Cuy Sheffield, argued that transactions initiated by smart contracts—without any human explicitly involved—aren’t directly comparable to the kind of transactions handled by traditional payment processors.

“For instance, developers can create automated bot programs that perform activities such as stablecoin arbitrage, liquidity provision, and market making, among others,” he wrote. “These activities are vital for sustaining the growing decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem. However, the on-chain transactions resulting from interactions with these automated programs don’t resemble settlement in the traditional sense.”

Other notable data points emerged from the analysis. According to Visa, USDC usage has experienced marked growth in the past eight months.

In September 2023, USDC was used for 23% of all the stablecoin transactions analyzed by Visa. But by the end of the year, that rate of use had more than doubled, surpassing 50% of all stablecoin transactions—as high as 60% in February—every month since December, according to Visa.

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