Circulating supply and upper limit
The supply of coins plays an important role in setting market prices. All other things being equal, the more scarce the coin, the more valuable it should be. Bitcoin and bitcoin cash each have an upper limit of 21 million coins, while litecoin and ripple have expanded maximum supplies of 84 million and 100 billion respectively.
These coins will be deflationary once all the coins have been mined or released, while coins like ether – with no fixed limit – have the potential to be inflationary, depending on how much is ‘burnt’ or lost.
Cryptocurrency mining and release rates
The supply of coins changes over time as new coins are mined or released. Mining is the process by ‘blocks’ of transactions are verified and new coins released.
Bitcoin is currently mined at a rate of 12.5 new coins for every verified block, with the reward halving roughly every four years (the final bitcoins will be mined around the year 2140).
Ripple coins, on the other hand, were pre-mined by its founders and are currently being released at a rate of one billion per month.