How many ADA coins are there? A Cardano analysis

Active addresses climbed rapidly for Cardano’s native coin. Did strong tokenomics help?

Cardano and its native coin ADA are sometimes touted as another ETH killer. And with the coin showing sustained growth, ADA is always on the radar of crypto investors. How many ADA coins exist? Right now, there are 33.55 billion ADA in circulation (33,553,148,079 ADA to be precise), against a total supply of 45 billion. But there is far more to ADA's story than that.

Cardano’s official blockchain explorer frustratingly lacks the transparency to give us a stronger analysis of Cardano coins. Luckily, a huge community of open-source developers allows us to look under ADA’s hood to get a better picture of how the coin is distributed.

Using data sourced from cardanoscan.com, we can see that the top five addresses hold a little over 1.42 billion ADA, accounting for 4.2% of ADA in circulation, a pretty strong figure suggesting that no single holder can exert too much influence on market activity. That said, numerous reports on the web suggest that whale activity is particularly high for Cardano. However, Currency.com could not find genuine statistics to confirm this.

Cross-referencing the inflow and outflow of ADA shows that the top two addresses receive and send out roughly the same value; these are most likely major exchange holdings. The remaining three addresses could be developer wallets, given the low transaction count, although this cannot be confirmed.

Screenshot showing the top five ADA addresses and their holding value
Checking blockchain activity allows for stronger coin analysis – Credit: cardanoscan.com

Of this total circulating volume, 70.5% of ADA are committed to live staking, an impressive sum indicating high network security. According to adapools.org, just over a milljon – 1,096,874 – delegators currently contribute to this figure. For those interested in delegating, the most popular pools generate returns ranging between 3.8% and 4.5%.

The benefits of ADA’s tokenomics

Tokenomics are a key ingredient in the functionality and utility of a cryptocurrency. Bitcoin (BTC)’s famously immutable maximum supply of 21 million is minuscule compared to some other recent projects, whose bloated circulations occasionally go as high as one quadrillion.

With a maximum supply of 45 billion, ADA sits somewhere in the middle. In fact, given the 33.55 billion ADA currently in circulation and the market capitalisation of $35.59bn, ADA’s current trading value of $1.06 serves as a fairly good correlative to the US dollar, especially compared with BTC’s trading value of $37,960, which is low in comparison with its all-time high of $68,789.63 on 10 November 2021.

This is beneficial for Cardano’s growing ecosystem of decentralised exchanges, decentralised finance applications and other DApps requiring a regular exchange of value. For example: you want to purchase an non-fungible token (NFT) worth $10. Is it more user friendly to send 0.00026 BTC, or 9.43 in Cardano coins? The difference in utility becomes more pronounced when dealing with microtransactions measuring fractions of a dollar.

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In fairness, despite BTC lacking utility as an exchangeable cryptocurrency, it has proven to be a viable store of value in the long term.

Is Cardano really an ETH killer?

According to Cardanoassets.com, 3,586 token contracts have been released on Cardano’s mainnet since inception. That said, the number of genuine projects with active utility is a lot smaller.

Less than 10% of these tokens are registered with a ticker and of these, only 81 show any substantial transactional activity. A total of 44, “very active tokens” – those with over 1,000 transactions in the last epoch – account for 1.2% of total token contracts. NFT collections add 81 “very active projects” to the ecosystem. 

In comparison, Ethereum is home to 488,994 token contracts, including some of the largest altcoins in the world: Tether, Binance Token, USD Coin, HEX, Matic, SHIBA INU and many other pedigree tokens live on the Ethereum network.

Two charts compare the transactions fees for ADA at 34 cents compared with ETH at $29.02
ADA’s average transaction fee of $0.34 is far below ETH’s $29.02 average – Credit: messari.io

That said, Cardano has a number of advantages over Ethereum, including lower transaction fees (displayed in the graphs above), higher throughput and faster block times. Cardano also showed far higher growth in activity over the past 12 months. Active addresses rose 678.92% against Ethereum’s 1.64%.

However, with Ethereum’s scheduled move to the more efficient proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus method at some point this year, only time will tell if Cardano can become a genuine ETH killer in the near future.

FAQs

How big is the Cardano blockchain?

Cardano’s native coin ADA has a circulating supply of kust over 33.55 billion against a maximum volume of 45 billion. There are 203,773 active addresses on Cardano’s blockchain according to a recent reading, a huge 678.92% year-on-year growth.

Does Cardano have unlimited supply?

No. The maximum supply of ADA is capped at 45 billion.

Further reading

Cardano to US Dollar
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