However, transferring USDT from a wallet or exchange is not always as straightforward as it first appears. Due to the expansion of the Tether ecosystem, the stablecoin can now be transferred using several different blockchains, which means that transaction times can vary depending on a variety of factors. To help understand USDT transaction times, we will look at how USDT transactions work, what blockchains USDT can be transferred on, and how long it takes to send USDT to a wallet and exchange.
What Is A USDT Transaction?
USDT does not have its own blockchain network. The token leverages other blockchain networks to transfer USDT from one user to another. For example, a USDT Omni token is a version of USDT associated with the Bitcoin blockchain. This token can be transferred across the Bitcoin blockchain using a native Bitcoin wallet and address. In comparison, a USDT ERC-20 token is a version of USDT associated with the Ethereum blockchain. To transfer these tokens, an Ethereum wallet and address must be used.
How Long Does It Take To Send USDT?
The length of USDT transfers depends on the blockchain being used. External factors such as network congestion and wallet address can then speed up or slow down a USDT transaction. On average, USDT transfers may take anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes to complete using the ERC-20 network. Transaction times can be as much as 30 minutes during periods of high congestion. If a faster USDT transaction is needed, sometimes a higher gas fee will help to move the transaction to the front of the queue.
PoS blockchains, such as Solana and Polygon, are known for their incredible speeds and can also be used to transfer USDT. The developers behind both Solana and Polygon claim that each blockchain can handle a theoretical maximum of 65,000 transactions per second (TPS). Although both currently work far below that claimed capacity (approx. 2,000 TPS), the high transaction throughput means that USDT transactions can be sent and received within 5 to 20 seconds on average.
At the lower end of the spectrum is Omni, a meta-layer created on top of Bitcoin where 4.6 transactions can be processed per second. Coupled with the high demand for the network, USDT transactions can take up to 1.5 hours during times of high congestion. Regardless of the blockchain, there are also external factors that can slow a USDT transaction down, including high network congestion and the destination address.
What Affects USDT Transfer Speed?
While USDT can be sent across a variety of different blockchains, the transaction speed for token transfer can be impacted by network congestion and the destination address.
- Network congestion. Although the internal architecture of all USDT-compatible blockchains is different, the transaction times of all blockchains can be severely impacted when there is a higher volume of users. As the number of users increases, it becomes harder for a blockchain to process more transactions. However, the effect of network congestion is amplified for blockchains that can’t offer high throughput. For example, at times of high network congestion, USDT transactions completed on the Ethereum blockchain may take tens of minutes longer. In comparison, USDT transactions completed on the Solana blockchain may take tens of seconds longer.
- Destination address. Wallet addresses are another factor that can influence how quickly USDT transactions get from A to B. There are 2 main types of cryptocurrency wallets; those that are non-custodial, often referred to as personal cryptocurrency wallets, and those that are custodial, such as a wallet kept on a cryptocurrency exchange. For security, certain wallet providers can require a predefined number of confirmations from a blockchain before USDT is transferred.
Is USDT The Quickest Stablecoin?
No, USDT is not the quickest stablecoin to transfer on a blockchain network. However, the answer to this question is slightly more complex than simply saying that USDT is not the fastest. The speed of USDT transactions is dependent on the blockchain chosen and external factors such as network congestion and the destination address. This is also true for other US dollar stablecoins such as USDC and TUSD. Even decentralized stablecoin protocols, that are built on top of multiple blockchains, are limited by the speed of the associated blockchain.
In short, while USDT may not be the fastest cryptocurrency to transfer, it is also not the slowest. There are a variety of speed-related factors that influence all stablecoins in the cryptocurrency market.
Can You Speed Up A USDT Transaction?
One of the only ways to speed up a USDT transaction is to increase the associated gas fee payment. A gas fee is generally required to send a transaction across a network. The gas fee is required by either a miner (PoW) or validator (PoS) to process the transaction and record the outcome onto the blockchain.
Some blockchains allow senders to increase the associated gas fee so that the transaction is favored by miners or validators. Other blockchains, such as Ethereum, also allow users to add an additional tip to a transaction so that the transaction is preferentially processed. Whether increasing the associated gas fee or leaving a tip, there is still no guarantee on the length of time a transaction might take.
How Does A USDT Transaction Work?
The majority of USDT-compatible blockchains rely on a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism to complete transactions. PoS blockchains are composed of thousands of validators, or nodes, that lock up native blockchain coins. For example, Tron validators must lock up the native TRN token in the network. Once a transaction is executed on a PoS blockchain, a validator is selected to validate and process the transaction.
The frequency of validator selection depends on:
- The number of locked tokens.
- How often the validator's server is online.
- How many other validators are online.
While the majority of USDT-compatible blockchains rely on PoS, USDT transactions can also be completed using blockchains that rely on a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism. Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum (for now) all rely on PoW mechanisms. Unlike PoS which relies on validators, PoW networks rely on miners that sacrifice computing power to solve complex algorithms. By solving a complex algorithm, miners earn the chance to validate transactions sent across the network.
Whether via PoS or PoW, once a transaction has been validated and processed, USDT will be transferred from the sender’s wallet address to the recipient's wallet address.
What Are Blockchain Confirmations?
Certain wallet providers can sometimes require cryptocurrency transactions, including USDT, to have a certain number of validations by a blockchain network to confirm the transaction. This is known as a "confirmation". Each time the blockchain validates the transaction counts as 1 confirmation and means that the transaction is less likely to be reversed.
The number of required confirmations varies between different wallet addresses. In particular, cryptocurrency exchanges can require a high number of confirmations to ensure that transactions are completed accurately. Once the required number of confirmations has been completed the transaction is fully executed and funds can be delivered to a recipient's address.
How Many Confirmations Are Required For USDT?
As USDT can be sent using multiple blockchains the number of confirmations is firstly dependent on what blockchain USDT is being sent across. Some cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges only support the transfer of USDT via one network. Others allow USDT to be sent via multiple networks.
For example, on Coinbase, USDT must be sent using the Ethereum (ERC-20) network. However, on Binance, USDT can be sent using the Ethereum (ERC-20), BNB Chain (BEP-20), and Tron (TRC-20) networks. The number of confirmations required to complete a USDT transfer to the top-ranking crypto exchanges is:
- Crypto.com: Ethereum (ERC-20): 12 confirmations
- Kraken: Ethereum (ERC-20): 20 confirmations, Tron (TRC-20): 20 confirmations
- Coinbase: Ethereum (ERC-20): 14 confirmations
Which Blockchain Networks Can USDT Be Sent?
Due to the ongoing expansion of the USDT ecosystem, the token can now be transferred using 13 different blockchain networks such as Ethereum, OMNI, Tron and Solana. Each transaction is stored on the associated blockchain database. A complete list of compatible blockchains can be found below:
- Bitcoin Cash’s Simple Ledger Protocol (SLP)
- BNB Chain (Binance Chain)
- Liquid Network
- Omni (Bitcoin)
How Much Does It Cost To Send USDT?
The cost to send USDT is dependent on the blockchain being used for the transfer and where the USDT is being sent from. For example, a transaction sent across the Ethereum blockchain from an exchange wallet will likely be more expensive than a transaction sent across the Solana blockchain using a personal wallet.
Due to its limited scalability, at times of high congestion, sending transactions across the Ethereum blockchain can become extremely expensive. Gas fees have been known to climb into several tens of dollars. Many exchanges may also charge a withdrawal fee to complete the transaction which can add an additional cost.
In comparison, blockchains such as Solana have increased scalability, which allows for USDT transactions to be completed much cheaper. USDT gas fees on the quickest blockchains can be less than $1. Unlike withdrawing from an exchange account, there are very rarely fees associated with moving funds from a personal wallet.
How To Send Tether (USDT) - Quick Guide
After acquiring USDT tokens within a wallet or exchange, and selecting a blockchain for transfer, tokens can be sent or received using a wallet address applicable to that specific blockchain.
USDT transfers can be broken down into 3 steps:
- Deposit USDT tokens into a wallet that is applicable for the chosen blockchain. For example, to transfer USDT across the Ethereum blockchain, USDT tokens must first be held within an ERC-20 wallet.
- Enter the number of USDT tokens to transfer.
- Enter the recipient wallet address that USDT will be sent to. This wallet address needs to be applicable to the blockchain network being used. To transfer ERC-20 USDT tokens, the recipient’s wallet address would need to be an ERC-20 wallet.
Frequently Asked Questions
While some blockchains, such as Solana and Polygon, may allow for near-instant transactions, the majority of USDT transfers will take upwards of 1 minute to 10 minutes. The speed of USDT transfers will be dependent on the blockchain chosen to complete the transactions as well as network congestion.
The length of time it takes to transfer ERC-20 USDT tokens is governed by the Ethereum blockchain. On average, ERC-20 USDT tokens will be sent within 10 minutes. As a PoW blockchain, the speed of the Ethereum blockchain is greatly affected by the number of users. At times of high usage, transaction times can be severely lengthened.
Tether, also known as USDT, is a cryptocurrency that has its value pegged to the United States Dollar (USD). The stablecoin is referred to as ‘Tether’ due to the idea of it tethering itself to the value of USD. Like Bitcoin (BTC), USDT is a digital asset stored on a blockchain. However, where BTC is a coin associated with the operation and security of the Bitcoin blockchain, USDT is a token that is transferred across a range of blockchains.
Due to Tether's peg, the coin is frequently used to trade cryptocurrency pairs and also shelter funds outside the volatility of cryptocurrency markets. It has grown to become one of the largest digital assets in the industry and frequently holds a top 5 spot by market capitalization.
Related: What is USDT and how does it work?
To maintain its peg with USD, USDT’s value is backed by physical USD reserves. According to Tether Ltd. these reserves are stored within a bank. For every 1 USDT token, 1 USD is stored in physical reserves. At any time, holders of USDT can swap digital tokens for USD at a ratio of 1:1.
USDT is one of the most widely used stablecoins within the cryptocurrency industry. Its compatibility with a vast range of blockchains makes it a useful tool to shelter funds from the volatility of crypto markets and also trade. However, the same compatibility can mean that there is significant variability between USDT transaction times.