How many Ethereum are there?

Ethereum’s supply was once thought infinite – but all of that is about to change

Contents

For those who are just starting to get their heads around how cryptocurrencies work, a common question is this: how many Ethereum are there?

Well, the world’s second-largest coin has a slightly different setup to bitcoin. Whereas only 21 million BTC will ever exist, ether’s circulating supply currently stands at 117.7 million.

How many Ethereum exist has a direct impact on price. Generally, the greater the number of coins that are publicly available, the lower its value. That helps explain why XRP, which has a circulating supply of 46.75 billion tokens, has never surpassed an all-time high of $3.84 set in 2018.

Like Bitcoin, the Ethereum blockchain currently operates on a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism. However, some big changes are on the horizon. Soon, Ethereum will make a big transition over to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) – something that will affect how many Ethereum can be mined… and how transactions are validated.

Is there a max supply of Ethereum?

How many Ethereum coins there are now is vastly different to when the blockchain first launched, all the way back in the summer of 2015. Back then, about 72 million ETH were in existence. On a narrower timeframe, the circulating supply today is 4% higher than what it was 12 months ago.

But there are suggestions that how many new Ethereum coins there are is going to dramatically reduce over time – and this will coincide with the transition from PoW to PoS. Upgrades are being made that will eventually eliminate the need for miners altogether, and this could result in ETH becoming a deflationary asset. With fewer and fewer coins out there for people to buy, prices may appreciate as a result.

How many Ethereum nodes are there?

Another important metric to consider is how many Ethereum nodes there are. One new development in the long-awaited upgrade to ETH 2.0 is staking – which effectively gives people the chance to have a financial interest in the smooth running of the blockchain. By helping to secure the network, those who run validator nodes can earn rewards whenever they approve transactions – however, they will be penalised if their actions go against the best interests of the network.

Getting involved in staking is a rather pricey endeavour. At the time of writing, people who wanted to run their own validator node would need to cough up 32 ETH – and that’s worth about $106,811. (There are a number of services that allow people to pool their Ethereum and collectively run a node together, with each participant taking a share in the rewards.)

How many Ethereum coins are left?

The latest figures suggest that more than 7.8 million ETH has already been staked – and collectively, this has a value of roughly $25.5bn at the time of writing. This could also have an effect on Ethereum prices going forward, because it takes a substantial chunk of the available supply off the market and locks it into a contract. 

And another factor in how many Ethereum coins there are relates to the ambitious new improvement proposal known as EIP-1559, also dubbed the ‘London hard fork’, that came into effect on 5 August 2021. This controversial measure has resulted in a number of coins being destroyed (or burned) every time it is used to complete a transaction. At the time of writing, $1.4bn has been burned by the upgrade, that’s about 240 ETH per hour. It is also hoped that this upgrade will make it easier for crypto enthusiasts to figure out how much a payment will cost in advance.

All of this helps create certainty about supply in the future, and could put paid to suggestions that the supply of Ether had the potential to be infinite.

How big is the Ethereum blockchain?

Many crypto investors have been tempted to buy into ether because of how it has developed a track record of outperforming bitcoin. There are several enthusiasts who believe that this trend will continue – and some have even set a price target of $10,000 for ETH in the near future. (This may seem far-fetched, but do remember that this would involve growth of just 300%… something that is tame by this digital asset’s standards.)

Despite losing some market share to rival networks that offer lower fees and faster transaction times, the Ethereum blockchain is the bedrock of key crypto trends including decentralised finance and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). And here is a staggering impact from Messari that shows how extensively ETH is used: in the first quarter of 2021, more than $1.5trn in transactions were settled on this network – that is more than the previous seven quarters put together. (Of course, the recent bull run might have had something to do with this.)

Ramping up demand for Ethereum

Looking ahead, something that will be crucial to ramping up demand for Ethereum – and encouraging institutional adoption – involves addressing the bottlenecks that currently exist on the network. Transaction costs have gone through the roof because of how miners currently prioritise customers who are willing to pay the highest fees. One solution that has been touted by Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin (at least until ETH 2.0 launches) are rollups. This is a Layer 2 solution that effectively bunches transactions together before they are submitted to the main blockchain, helping to make the network more efficient.

Beyond that, blockchain developers and crypto enthusiasts will have to wait impatiently for ETH 2.0 to launch. Although there had been a suggestion that this transition may not be fully completed until 2022 at the earliest, high-ranking Ethereum Foundation members have suggested that it may be brought forward to this year. Rushing this upgrade could be regarded as something of a high-stakes move, as any technical hiccups could disrupt the transactions worth billions of dollars and affect confidence in the whole network.

And with the likes of PayPal CEO Dan Schulman forecasting that digital assets will play a bigger role in the financial infrastructure of the future and Visa also beginning to make use of the Ethereum blockchain, there are naysayers who believe that ETH 2.0 may also end up suffering congestion in the not-too-distant future. This could end up landing the project back at square one and having to go through the painful process of scaling up once again.   

Trade Ethereum to US Dollar – ETH/USD chart

Ethereum to US Dollar
Daily change
4117.47
Low: 4064.26
High: 4153.28

FAQs

The size of the Ethereum blockchain is not fixed – it grows to meet demand. Because of this flexibility, Ethereum blockchain has become the bedrock of key crypto trends including decentralised finance and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). For example, in the first quarter of 2021, more than $1.5trn in transactions were settled on this network – that is more than the previous seven quarters put together.

How many Ethereum coins there are left relates to the new proposal known as EIP-1559, also dubbed the ‘London hard fork’, that came into effect on 5 August 2021. This controversial measure has resulted in a number of coins being destroyed (or burned) every time a transaction is completed. At the time of writing, $1.4bn has been burned by the upgrade, that’s about 240 ETH per hour. All of this helps to create certainty about supply in the future, and could put paid to suggestions that the supply of Ether had the potential to be infinite.

How many Ethereum coins there are now is vastly different to when the blockchain first launched in 2015. Back then, about 72 million ETH were in existence. On a narrower timeframe, the circulating supply today is 4% higher than what it was 12 months ago. But there are suggestions that the new of new Ethereum coins is going to reduce over time – and this will coincide with the transition from PoW to PoS. 

Further reading

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