Within the blockchain industry, the term market capitalization (or market cap) refers to a metric that measures the relative size of a cryptocurrency. It is calculated by multiplying the current market price of a particular coin or token with the total number of coins in circulation.
Market Cap = Current Price x Circulating Supply
For example, if each unit of a cryptocurrency is being traded at $10.00, and the circulating supply is equal to 50,000,000 coins, the market capitalization for this cryptocurrency would be $500,000,000.
While the market cap may offer some insights about the size and performance of a company or cryptocurrency project, it is important to note that it is not the same as money inflow. So, it does not represent how much money is in the market. This is a common misconception because the calculation of market cap is directly dependent on price, but in fact, a relatively small variation in price may affect the market cap significantly.
Considering the previous example, a few millions of dollars could potentially pump the cryptocurrency price from $10.00 to $15.00, which would cause the market cap to increase from $500,000,000 to $750,000,000. However, this doesn’t mean there was an inflow of $250,000,000 in the market. Actually, the amount of money needed to cause such an increase in price is dependent on volume and liquidity, which are distinct but related concepts.
While volume relates to the number of assets exchanged within a certain period, liquidity is basically the degree to which the asset can be quickly bought or sold without causing too much impact on the price.
Simply put, a high-volume and liquid market cannot be easily manipulated because there are many orders in the order book and possibly a big volume of orders within the different ranges of price. This would result in a less volatile market, meaning that a whale would need a lot of money to significantly manipulate the price.
In contrast, a thin order book of a low-volume market could be easily overpassed with a relatively small amount of money, causing a significant impact on both the price and market cap.