When it comes to cryptocurrency world, it seems like the low-supply token like one that has only 1,000,000 tokens total supply always be considered sexier compared to those tokens which has billion.

That is simply because most of people think that to have 1,000,000 tokens really mean there is only 1 million tokens available for trading. But the truth is:

Many time 1,000,000 tokens actually mean there is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 total tokens in the smallest unit !

How does that happen ? And how could we know exactly how many tokens in total available? You will find the answer in this article.

Well, let’s start with the first thing everyone in cryptocurrency world must know: The Token Decimals

Token Decimals

If you are familiar with the way you need to manually add the custom token in any wallet, one required field is the “Token Decimals” like shown below.

Figure 1. Token Decimals

What is the Token Decimals ? The meaning is actually quite straightforward. The number 18 shown in Figure 1 simply mean that there are 18 digits in the fraction part. In this case, GVT does not have 4,436,643 tokens but there actually is 4,436,643,928,533,333,333,333,331 total tokens in the smallest unit but 18 of them are in the fraction part.

And when you hold 1 GVT, it actually mean you are holding 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 in the smallest unit and 10¹⁸ of them is just called 1 GVT.

Please note that the data stored in the Ethereum blockchain is also actually 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 not 1.

Why 18 ?

Again, if you have ever played around with the custom token, you might notice that token decimals are 18 in the most cases. Why ?

The reason is simple.

It is because 1 ETH = 10¹⁸ Wei

That’s why most of ERC-20 token consider using the same number. Anyway Token Decimals number is adjustable by the contract made by developer, for example, ACE token’s decimals is 0.

Figure 2. Token Decimals: 0

In this case, ACE really has 14,476,036 tokens and this is the smallest unit already.

Same case for Bitcoin and Satoshi

You might already know that 1 Bitcoin = 100,000,000 Satoshis. It is pretty much the same. Although there would be 21,000,000 Bitcoins in total but there actually is 21,000,000,000,000,000 satoshis which is the smallest unit that is tradable.

Two years ago, it is pretty a normal activity to buy 10 BTC. But an ordinary people these days doesn’t trade for a whole bitcoin anymore but most of them do it in satoshi unit.

Why Token Decimals is important ?

Let’s look at the $GVT again. If you have no idea about what Token Decimals actually is, you might think that $GVT has lower supply than Bitcoin. But the truth is $GVT actually has 211 million times more supply than Bitcoin if we look into the smallest unit.

If you are hoping that the demand for any token will exceed the total supply one day which will cause the skyrocketing on the price, your might be completely wrong if you don’t know how the decimals actually work in cryptocurrency world.


Next time when you are looking for a “low-supply token”, don’t forget to check for the Token Decimals and the number of tokens available in the smallest unit as well.

Sittiphol Phanvilai

Written by

A full-stack developer from Thailand. I use Medium mainly for the English article. My Thai blog posts are in https://nuuneoi.com by the way.

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