Updated: Mar 23
If you're a cryptocurrency trader, you've likely heard the term "market cap" thrown around. But what exactly does it mean, and how can it be used to inform your trading decisions? In this article, we'll explore what crypto market cap is, how it's calculated, and how you can use it as a tool in your trading strategy.
What Is Crypto Market Cap?
Crypto market cap refers to the total value of a particular cryptocurrency or the entire cryptocurrency market. It's calculated by multiplying the circulating supply of a particular cryptocurrency by its current price. For example, if a cryptocurrency has a circulating supply of 10 million tokens and is currently trading at $50 per token, its market cap would be $500 million.
Market cap is used to rank cryptocurrencies in terms of their overall value and size relative to each other. It can be used to compare the value of different cryptocurrencies, and to track changes in the value of a particular cryptocurrency over time.
How Is Crypto Market Cap Calculated?
As mentioned earlier, crypto market cap is calculated by multiplying the circulating supply of a particular cryptocurrency by its current price. The circulating supply refers to the total number of tokens or coins that are currently in circulation and available for trading. It's important to note that this may be different from the total supply of a cryptocurrency, which refers to the total number of tokens or coins that will ever be created.
For example, let's say that a particular cryptocurrency has a total supply of 100 million tokens, but only 50 million tokens are currently in circulation. If the current price of the cryptocurrency is $2 per token, its market cap would be calculated by multiplying 50 million by $2, resulting in a market cap of $100 million.
Why Is Crypto Market Cap Important?
Crypto market cap is an important metric for several reasons. Firstly, it can be used to gauge the overall size and health of the cryptocurrency market. A high market cap indicates that there is a lot of money invested in a particular cryptocurrency or the entire market, while a low market cap may indicate that there is less interest or investment.
Market cap can also be used to compare the value of different cryptocurrencies. For example, if two cryptocurrencies have the same current price, but one has a higher market cap, it may be considered more valuable or established than the other.
Finally, market cap can be used as a tool for portfolio management and risk assessment. By tracking changes in the market cap of different cryptocurrencies, traders can gain insights into which cryptocurrencies may be overvalued or undervalued, and adjust their portfolio accordingly.
Limitations of Crypto Market Cap
While market cap is a useful metric, it's important to be aware of its limitations. One of the main limitations is that it doesn't take into account the total supply of a cryptocurrency, or how that supply is distributed. This means that a cryptocurrency with a high market cap may still be susceptible to manipulation or volatility if a large portion of its supply is held by a small number of individuals or entities.
Market cap can also be influenced by factors other than demand and supply, such as market sentiment, news events, and regulatory changes. Additionally, market cap doesn't provide any information about the underlying technology or fundamentals of a particular cryptocurrency, which may be important factors for long-term growth and success.
How to Use Crypto Market Cap for Trading
While market cap has its limitations, it can still be a useful tool for traders. Here are a few ways you can use market cap to inform your trading strategy:
Understanding Market Cap and Circulating Supply
As we mentioned earlier, market cap is calculated based on a cryptocurrency's circulating supply, rather than its total supply. This means that it's important to understand how a particular cryptocurrency's supply is distributed and how it may impact its market cap.
For example, if a cryptocurrency has a large total supply but a small percentage of that supply is currently in circulation, its market cap may be lower than expected. Conversely, if a cryptocurrency has a small total supply but a large percentage of that supply is currently in circulation, its market cap may be higher than expected.
Using Market Cap to Identify Opportunities
Market cap can be a useful tool for identifying potential investment opportunities. Traders may look for cryptocurrencies with low market caps that have the potential for growth or that may be undervalued based on their technology or fundamentals.
Using Market Cap to Identify Risks
On the other hand, market cap can also be used to identify potential risks. Traders may look for cryptocurrencies with high market caps that may be overvalued or that may be vulnerable to market manipulation.
How Market Cap Can Inform Portfolio Management
Market cap can also be used to inform portfolio management. By tracking changes in the market cap of different cryptocurrencies, traders can adjust their portfolio to reduce risk or take advantage of potential opportunities.
For example, if a particular cryptocurrency's market cap is declining rapidly, a trader may choose to reduce their exposure to that cryptocurrency to limit their losses. Conversely, if a cryptocurrency's market cap is increasing rapidly, a trader may choose to increase their exposure to that cryptocurrency to take advantage of potential gains.
Combining Market Cap with Other Metrics
While market cap can be a useful metric on its own, it's often more effective when combined with other metrics. Traders may use market cap in conjunction with other technical analysis tools, such as chart patterns, to gain a more complete picture of a particular cryptocurrency's potential for growth or decline.
Real-World Examples of Market Cap in Action
To illustrate how market cap can be used in trading, let's look at a few real-world examples:
Bitcoin vs. Ethereum
Bitcoin and Ethereum are two of the largest and most well-known cryptocurrencies in the market. As of March 2023, Bitcoin has a market cap of around $468 billion, while Ethereum has a market cap of around $200 billion.
While both cryptocurrencies have seen significant growth over the past few years, Bitcoin's market cap is currently more than two times higher than Ethereum's. This may indicate that Bitcoin is more established and widely adopted, while Ethereum may still have more room for growth.
Dogecoin is a meme-inspired cryptocurrency that gained popularity in early 2021. Despite its origins as a joke, Dogecoin's market cap quickly skyrocketed, reaching a peak of nearly $90 billion in 2021.
However, many analysts questioned the sustainability of Dogecoin's market cap, as it was largely driven by hype and speculation rather than underlying technology or fundamentals. As expected, Dogecoin's market cap eventually declined significantly, falling to around $9 billion by March 2023.
The Future of Crypto Market Cap
As the cryptocurrency market continues to evolve and mature, it's likely that market cap will continue to be an important metric for traders and investors. However, as we've discussed, market cap has its limitations and should be used in conjunction with other metrics and analysis tools.
In the future, we may see new metrics or approaches to measuring the value and potential of cryptocurrencies. For example, some analysts have proposed using metrics such as network value, which takes into account factors like user adoption and transaction volume, to supplement or replace market cap.
In summary, crypto market cap is a valuable tool for traders and investors looking to understand the overall size and value of the cryptocurrency market, as well as to track the value of individual cryptocurrencies over time. However, it's important to be aware of the limitations of market cap and to use it in conjunction with other analysis tools to make informed trading decisions.
Can market cap be used to predict the future price of a cryptocurrency?
Market cap is just one metric and shouldn't be used as the sole factor to predict the future price of a cryptocurrency. It's important to take into account other factors, such as technology, adoption, and market sentiment.
Is a high market cap always a good thing?
Not necessarily. A high market cap can indicate that a cryptocurrency is established and widely adopted, but it can also make it more vulnerable to market manipulation and volatility.
How often is market cap calculated?
Market cap is calculated in real-time based on the current circulating supply and price of a particular cryptocurrency.
Can market cap be manipulated?
While market cap can be influenced by various factors, such as demand and supply, it's generally more difficult to manipulate than the price of an individual cryptocurrency.
How should I use market cap in my trading strategy?
Market cap can be used to identify potential investment opportunities or risks, inform portfolio management, and provide insights into the overall size and health of the cryptocurrency market. However, it should be used in conjunction with other metrics and analysis tools to make informed trading decisions.
About the Author
Spitty is a full-time crypto, forex, and stock trader, as well as an educator at Spitfire Traders. With years of experience in the trading industry, Spitty is a confluence trader who specializes in using technical analysis to identify trading opportunities. He is passionate about helping his students become consistently profitable full-time traders, and he achieves this by teaching them his proven strategies and techniques.
Spitty is known for his no-nonsense approach to trading, and he firmly believes in using only technical analysis and not relying on fundamentals or news events. He also doesn't use indicators or trade any breakout strategies, preferring to focus on price action and chart patterns.
As an educator at Spitfire Traders, Spitty is dedicated to providing his students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the competitive world of trading. He is committed to delivering high-quality, engaging content that is tailored to the individual needs of his students, and he takes pride in seeing them achieve their trading goals.
If you're looking to improve your trading skills and become a consistently profitable trader, Spitty is the right person to help you get there. With his expertise and guidance, you can learn the strategies and techniques you need to succeed in the world of trading.