Beginning at or around 2:53PM London time on Monday 29th of July, a huge sum of bitcoin began moving totaling about ₿200,000, worth some $2 billion.
We haven’t had time to analyze them in depth, but quite a few things stand out, beginning with an identical date, and for three of them an identical time, of establishment: 2015-08-09 16:56:36.
On that day, or the day after on 10th August 2015, about ₿25,000 was sent to each of these addresses, worth at the time about $7.5 million each if we take the then most common price of about $300 per bitcoin.
So not a huge amount of money for the time, about $30 million in total for a combined ₿100,000 bitcoin.
Then nothing happens until the 3rd of November 2015 when 1.5 bitcoin is withdrawn from one of the four and sent to another of the four. The same happens with the other two addresses, withdrawn from one, sent to another, this time ₿1.26.
Perhaps someone checking they have the keys still or there’s some sort of account keeping going on.
The same happens on the 25th of December 2015. This time it’s all withdrawals for small amounts of ₿1-₿8. Those withdrawals are then deposited again in a shuffling manner on the 31st of December.
There’s then continuous deposits primarily, but also occasional withdrawals, with deposit amounts kind of increasing as time goes on.
Interestingly it looks like in or around December 2015, people start noticing all four of these addresses and send dust probably to track them or be alerted if they are moved.
In addition, the few deposits we checked appear to be coming from different large addresses. It might be those addresses are the same coins going through mixing, but all of them have very many transactions of 57,000 or more, like this one.
First view would be this is shuffling the same coins, but interestingly it is different addresses that each have received about 200,000 bitcoin in total through tens of thousands of transactions.
If this is mixing, then parking that ₿100,000 in the four addresses since 2015 and adding on to it as time goes on sounds a bit like the opposite of mixing.
It appears more likely instead that these are being withdrawn from the ₿200,000 addresses with those 57,000 transaction addresses perhaps being a sort of chopped up hot wallet of an exchange or different exchanges.
Meaning this could be the tether system, with that being very much a hypothesis based on the timing of an announcement:
As tether is moving to the federated Liquid sidechain, there may have been cause to move the coins.
In addition, tether has admitted some of the funds are used to buy bitcoin. So if these are indeed their coins, then our initial guess of how tether works considering they’re under a banking blockade was probably right.
Tether perhaps just gives you an IoU of sorts. So if you give them $1 worth of bitcoin, they give you 1 USDT, and as they’re keeping this $1 worth of bitcoin, then USDT is sort of backed with cash or its equivalent, the equivalent including bitcoin.
So tether perhaps doesn’t touch the dollar at all with this 200,000 bitcoins, if it is tether’s, accounting for half of its market cap.
There is no hard evidence to suggest these coins are tether’s, but it does look likely that USDT is primarily backed by bitcoins rather than dollars.