USDC is a stablecoin that aims to maintain a peg to the US dollar. USDC is fiat-collateralized stablecoin meaning it is 100% backed by US dollar-denominated assets held in accounts with US regulated financial institutions.
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A brief history
USD Coin (USDC) was launched in September of 2018 by Center — a joint venture between Coinbase and Circle. USDC first launched on the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 token, but has since expanded to other blockchains including Solana, Stellar, and Algorand, and can be purchased on both centralized and decentralized exchanges (DEXs). As a stablecoin, it provides all the benefits of cryptocurrencies––faster, cheaper, permissionless transactions––without the price volatility.
USDC in practice
USDC's price is pegged 1-1 to the US Dollar. The platform maintains this peg through a simple 100% collateralization mechanism. This means that if a user initiates a transaction to buy one USD Coin using fiat currency, then that fiat currency is deposited and stored as one U.S. dollar and the new USDC is minted. On the other hand, if a user were to sell a USD Coin in exchange for fiat currency, then the USDC is "burned" when the fiat money is transferred back to your bank account. In theory, for every 1 USDC token in circulation, there is USD $1 held in collateral. In order to purchase USDC, a user must first meet the Know Your Customer (KYC) identity requirements. Following that process, users can link their bank account and make a wire transfer in US Dollars. That money is then converted into USDC, and the customer can use an exchange to trade it for other cryptocurrencies. Users can also convert the USDC back into US Dollars, which will then be wired back into their bank account.