What Is a Stablecoin Peg?

What Is a Stablecoin Peg?

4 Min.

Stablecoins are digital currencies designed to maintain a stable price. They use a "peg" mechanism that ties their value to a particular asset or basket of assets. Stablecoins can either be collateralized with fiat, crypto, or commodities or non-collateralized and regulated by algorithms. However, maintaining a stable peg can be complex and vulnerable to market fluctuations. Historical instances, such as UST in 2022, USDC and DAI in 2023, and USDR in 2023, have highlighted the challenges of maintaining a stable peg.


Stablecoins represent a unique category within the cryptocurrency landscape, engineered to uphold a steady valuation amidst the market's characteristic volatility. Their stability hinges on the concept of a "peg," akin to a steadfast anchor securing value. Like nations tethering their currency to foreign denominations to mitigate fluctuations, stablecoins employ analogous mechanisms. Prominent examples such as USDT and DAI strive to maintain a value parity with the US dollar, aiming for a consistent $1 valuation.

What Happens When a Stablecoin Depegs

When a stablecoin diverges from its established peg, it undergoes a "depegging event," signifying a departure from its intended value. With stablecoins commanding substantial trading volumes, such occurrences hold significant repercussions. Subsequent sections delve into historical depegging incidents, but first, examining how stablecoins uphold their pegs is warranted.

How Stablecoins Maintain Their Pegs

Stablecoins operate within two primary frameworks: collateralized and non-collateralized.

  • Collateralized Stablecoins: Under collateralized stablecoins, value backing originates from assets such as fiat, cryptocurrencies, or commodities. These stablecoins ensure a one-to-one reserve ratio, securing each token with an equivalent reserve asset. Examples include FDUSD and USDT (fiat-collateralized), DAI and crvUSD (crypto-collateralized), and PAX Gold (commodity-collateralized).
  • Non-collateralized Stablecoins: Algorithmic stablecoins, devoid of tangible backing, rely on algorithms and smart contracts to regulate supply dynamically, aligning prices with peg values. TerraUSD (UST) serves as a notable example in this category.

Despite claims of full collateralization by stablecoin projects, the veracity of these assertions varies, necessitating caution. In contrast, non-collateralized stablecoins, also referred to as algorithmic stablecoins, leverage programmed algorithms and smart contracts to regulate their supply dynamically in response to market demand, thus maintaining a close proximity to their pegged value.

Notable Instances of Stablecoin Depegging

May 2022 - UST

Terra's UST stablecoin encountered a significant depegging event in May 2022, coinciding with Terra's native token, LUNA, being the world's 8th largest cryptocurrency. The depegging of UST and LUNA resulted in widespread losses across interconnected crypto projects, sparking the "crypto contagion." Other stablecoins, including Tron's USDD and Near Protocol's USN, also briefly lost their pegs during this period.

March 2023 - USDC and DAI

USDC and DAI faced depegging incidents in March 2023 following the collapse of three US banks: Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), Signature Bank, and Silvergate Bank. USDC's loss of peg was exacerbated by the revelation that a significant portion of its collateral reserves were held at SVB. DAI, too, experienced volatility due to its reliance on USDC-backed instruments. Stability returned when the Federal Reserve intervened to support the affected banks' creditors.

October 2023 - USDR

Launched in 2022 by Tangible, USDR aimed to maintain a USD peg using a blend of tokenized real estate and DAI as collateral. Despite mechanisms like an auto re-collateralizing feature, USDR depegged on October 11, 2023, due to a surge in redemption requests that depleted its DAI reserves. With illiquid tokenized real estate as remaining collateral, meeting redemption demands became challenging, causing uncertainty among USDR holders. The use of ERC-721 tokens for collateral further complicated timely redemptions.


In the rapidly changing world of cryptocurrencies, stablecoins have emerged as a vital refuge for investors seeking stability. Nevertheless, past events, such as the significant depegging episodes involving UST and USDR, underscore their vulnerability to external economic forces and structural deficiencies. Given the dynamic nature of financial markets, thorough research is paramount before engaging in risk-taking endeavors.

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