Crypto Token Supply: Total, Circulating, and Maximum Supply Explained

Jul 6, 2023

Crypto Basics

A token's supply is the number of available tokens. This is important to understand as it can affect current and future pricing as it is leveraged to determine a token's market cap. It also informs you of how many tokens are available and whether that number can increase (minting) or has already decreased (burned).

When dealing with crypto projects, you should be aware of a few different types of supplies:

  • Total supply

  • Circulating supply

  • Maximum Supply

There are extreme cases for a few other supplies, but you rarely hear of those. Let's dig into these main types of supplies to help you understand what they mean.

What is Total Supply?

The total supply of a token is the number of tokens that are currently in existence. While this number is good to know, it does not necessarily provide the best picture. Many projects will burn tokens either in bulk or via automated deflationary methods, such as taking a tax percentage and burning it. This is why total supply is less important than circulating supply.

What is the Circulating Supply?

Circulating supply is the total supply of tokens minus the burned tokens. Circulating supply can be confusing as some projects like to exclude tokens when they really shouldn't be excluded.

For example, a project may have created 4 trillion tokens at launch but then burned 1 trillion of those tokens. The circulating supply would be 3 trillion tokens (4 trillion tokens created - 1 trillion tokens burned). This 3 trillion is leveraged to determine the token's market cap.

What is Maximum Supply?

Maximum supply is the maximum amount of tokens that can be created. Once that specific number is reached, that project can no longer produce tokens in any capacity.

You may hear maximum supply discussed less often because a token's total supply typically equals the maximum supply. Maximum supply comes into play for tokens that allow the minting of additional tokens.

The best example of this is Bitcoin. Even though it is not technically a token, the supply rules still apply. Until the next halving in 2024, there are .625 bitcoins mined each minute. That means the total supply of Bitcoin continues to increase. Bitcoin has a maximum of 21 million, at which time no more Bitcoins will be created. So Bitcoin's maximum supply is 21 million.

How Do I See a Token's Supply?

The Quick Intel scanner displays the token's total and circulating supply to ensure you have the necessary information. Additionally, the scanner displays audit results for dozens of other data points to help investors make informed decisions.