Circulating Supply

What Is Circulating Supply?

Circulating supply is the total number of a specific cryptocurrency‘s coins or tokens in circulation on a blockchain and publicly available for the market to trade. The amount in circulation can rise or fall over time as new coins are mined or burned. Coins or tokens can also be lost by sending them to an irrecoverable wallet address or losing the keys to a wallet.

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Circulating supply is part of the tokenomics that determines how a project operates and should be considered before trading or investing in a crypto project.

Techopedia Explains

The more coins or tokens that are released into the circulating supply, the more the value decreases. Conversely, the more coins or tokens that are removed from circulation, the more the value increases.

Circulating supply differs from the total supply and maximum supply.

  • Total supply is the overall quantity of coins or tokens that have been issued, including burned or lost units, alongside any additional units that have been brought into circulation.
  • Maximum supply is a limit that is hard-coded into the cryptocurrency, which neither the circulating supply nor total supply can exceed.

For instance, bitcoin (BTC) has a circulating supply of around 19.45 million, which will continue to increase gradually as new coins are mined every 10 minutes on average until it reaches its maximum supply of 21 million.

Maximum supply vs Total Supply vs Circulating Supply

Conversely, the shiba inu (SHIB) token has a circulating supply of 589 trillion out of an initial total supply of 1 quadrillion, as more than half have been burned or destroyed, which has taken them out of circulation.

Some projects reserve a portion of the total supply for the treasury, liquidity pools, and/or incentives for developers to build out the ecosystem. This reduces the circulating supply.

If a cryptocurrency’s circulating supply is far below its total supply, there is a risk that its value could be diluted by a future release of supply from the reserves – especially if demand does not increase to absorb the extra supply. Investors should conduct thorough research to check that a project does not have an unusually low circulating supply.

It can influence a cryptocurrency’s inflation rate. Regular releases of new coins or tokens into circulation can be inflationary, weighing on the value of the existing supply. In the meantime, decreasing the circulating supply over time can create a deflationary model that supports a crypto’s value.

How Do You Calculate Circulating Supply?

Blockchains do not have a way to measure the number of coins or tokens created or circulation, so any circulating supply figure is an approximation.

The calculation involves taking the initial supply of coins or tokens that were created at launch and subtracting any coins that were subsequently burned; any portion of the supply that may be locked away for a certain period, and any reserves held for development, future release, or other purposes. This can give users and investors a clearer idea of the actual number of coins or tokens available in the market for trading.

It can also be calculated by dividing a crypto’s market capitalization by its price. In this case, the circulating supply formula is the following:

Circulating Supply = Market Cap / Price

The Bottom Line

Understanding a cryptocurrency’s circulating supply is important for users, traders, and investors. It provides insights into the number of coins or tokens available for trading on the open market and their potential impact on market dynamics and valuation, as it affects a project’s market capitalization, scarcity, and pricing.

Researching the difference between crypto supplies can help identify whether a project has an inflationary or deflationary model. It can also indicate how supply and demand might evolve over time.

This is key to making informed crypto investment decisions.

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Nicole Willing

Nicole Willing has two decades of experience in writing and editing content on technology and finance. She has developed expertise in covering commodity, equity, and cryptocurrency markets, as well as the latest trends across the technology sector, from semiconductors to electric vehicles. Her background in reporting on developments in telecom networking equipment and services and industrial metals production gives her a unique perspective on the convergence of Internet-of-Things technologies and manufacturing.