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In search for stability in crypto-assets: are stablecoins the solution?


  • Bullmann, Dirk
  • Klemm, Jonas
  • Pinna, Andrea


Stablecoins claim to stabilise the value of major currencies in the volatile crypto-asset market. This paper describes the often complex functioning of different types of stablecoins and proposes a taxonomy of stablecoin initiatives. To this end it relies on a novel framework for their classification, based on the key dimensions that matter for crypto-assets, namely: (i) accountability of issuer, (ii) decentralisation of responsibilities, and (iii) what underpins the value of the asset. The analysis of different types of stablecoins shows a trade-off between the novelty of the stabilisation mechanism used in an initiative (from mirroring the traditional electronic money approach to the alleged introduction of an “algorithmic central bank”) and its capacity to maintain a stable market value. While relatively less innovative stablecoins could provide a solution to users seeking a stable store of value, especially if legitimised by the adherence to standards that are typical of payment services, the jury is still out on the potential future role of more innovative stablecoins outside their core user base. JEL Classification: E42, L17, O33

Suggested Citation

  • Bullmann, Dirk & Klemm, Jonas & Pinna, Andrea, 2019. "In search for stability in crypto-assets: are stablecoins the solution?," Occasional Paper Series 230, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbops:2019230
    Note: 3679451

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yi, Shuyue & Xu, Zishuang & Wang, Gang-Jin, 2018. "Volatility connectedness in the cryptocurrency market: Is Bitcoin a dominant cryptocurrency?," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 98-114.
    2. Ciaian, Pavel & Rajcaniova, Miroslava & Kancs, d'Artis, 2018. "Virtual relationships: Short- and long-run evidence from BitCoin and altcoin markets," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 173-195.
    3. Andrew Burnie, 2018. "Exploring the Interconnectedness of Cryptocurrencies using Correlation Networks," Papers 1806.06632,
    4. Svensson, Lars E O, 1999. "Price-Level Targeting versus Inflation Targeting: A Free Lunch?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(3), pages 277-295, August.
    5. Ruttenberg, Wiebe & Pinna, Andrea, 2016. "Distributed ledger technologies in securities post-trading - Revolution or evolution?," Occasional Paper Series 172, European Central Bank.
    6. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
    7. Corbet, Shaen & Meegan, Andrew & Larkin, Charles & Lucey, Brian & Yarovaya, Larisa, 2018. "Exploring the dynamic relationships between cryptocurrencies and other financial assets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 28-34.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alexis Derviz, 2020. "Stablecoins - a gateway between conventional and crypto financial universes?," Occasional Publications - Chapters in Edited Volumes, in: CNB Global Economic Outlook - March 2020, pages 12-16, Czech National Bank.
    2. Louis Abraham & Dominique Guegan, 2019. "The other side of the Coin: Risks of the Libra Blockchain," Post-Print halshs-02325808, HAL.
    3. Alexander Lipton & Aetienne Sardon & Fabian Schar & Christian Schupbach, 2020. "From Tether to Libra: Stablecoins, Digital Currency and the Future of Money," Papers 2005.12949,
    4. Ariah Klages-Mundt & Andreea Minca, 2020. "While Stability Lasts: A Stochastic Model of Stablecoins," Papers 2004.01304,
    5. Ariah Klages-Mundt & Dominik Harz & Lewis Gudgeon & Jun-You Liu & Andreea Minca, 2020. "Stablecoins 2.0: Economic Foundations and Risk-based Models," Papers 2006.12388,, revised Oct 2020.
    6. Auer, Raphael, 2019. "Embedded supervision: how to build regulation into blockchain finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 14095, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Oliver Read & Stefan Schäfer, 2020. "Libra Project: Regulators Act on Global Stablecoins," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer;ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics;Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), vol. 55(6), pages 392-398, November.
    8. Force, ECB Crypto Assets Task, 2020. "Stablecoins: Implications for monetary policy, financial stability, market infrastructure and payments, and banking supervision in the euro area," Occasional Paper Series 247, European Central Bank.
    9. Dimitris Malliaropulos & Petros Migiakis, 2020. "Sovereign credit ratings and the fundamentals of the Greek economy," Economic Bulletin, Bank of Greece, issue 51, pages 1-30, July.
    10. Nadler, Philip & Guo, Yike, 2020. "The fair value of a token: How do markets price cryptocurrencies?," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 52(C).
    11. Paolo Giudici & Thomas Leach & Paolo Pagnottoni, 2020. "Libra or Librae? Basket based stablecoins to mitigate foreign exchange volatility spillovers," DEM Working Papers Series 183, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.
    12. Louis Abraham & Dominique Guégan, 2019. "The other side of the Coin: Risks of the Libra Blockchain," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 19015, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    13. Bindseil, Ulrich, 2020. "Tiered CBDC and the financial system," Working Paper Series 2351, European Central Bank.
    14. Louis Abraham & Dominique Guégan, 2019. "The other side of the Coin: Risks of the Libra Blockchain," Working Papers 2019: 30, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    15. Richard K. Lyons & Ganesh Viswanath-Natraj, 2020. "What Keeps Stablecoins Stable?," NBER Working Papers 27136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Louis Abraham & Dominique Guegan, 2019. "The other side of the Coin: Risks of the Libra Blockchain," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-02325808, HAL.

    More about this item


    crypto-assets; distributed ledger technology; electronic money; stablecoins;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • L17 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Open Source Products and Markets
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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