The total amount of coins in existence right now, minus any coins that have been verifiably burned. *see Circulating Supply and Max Supply.
The total supply metric reflects the coins that have already been created or mined.
Not all coins included in this metric are available for use and coins that have been burned are not included.
Circulating supply rather than total supply is used to calculate the market capitalization of a cryptocurrency. The former is usually more reflective as cryptocurrency prices are normally affected by coins and tokens that can be used rather than those that are inaccessible.
Total supply includes coins that have been locked as a result of either pre-mined coins intentionally kept out of circulation and tokens that are locked in smart contracts.
Tokens can be locked in smart contracts until a particular purpose has been achieved, such as some stages of an ICO of a certain cryptocurrency.
Total supply can be an important indicator of a cryptocurrency’s profitability and whether investors should invest in a virtual currency.
For example, a large gap between circulating supply and the total supply can have implications for future profitability.
Many tokens set to come to the market can exert downward pressure on cryptocurrency prices.
Total supply cannot be used to determine the maximum number of tokens or coins that can ever be mined.
In the case of BTC, the maximum amount that can ever be created is capped at 21 million, although it is estimated that around four million BTC are missing or considered “lost”.