ELI5 The Ethereum #SupplyGate controversy

In early August 2020, Michael Goldstein, Pierre Rochard and others asked what seemed to be a trivial question. What’s Ethereum’s total monetary supply?

What they found next was both surprising and absolutely intriguing.

Turns out there isn’t a single official number for the currently available Ethereum supply! Worse yet: there is no official tool we can use to verify monetary ETH supply. Everyone has blindly relied on Etherscan ever since the Ethereum ICO 6+ years ago.

Ethereum devs and users then scrambled to come up with an official number – but they all seemed to come up with different results!

One user then replied “check Etherscan!”. Hilarity ensued.

This reply set off a whole wave of memes and generalized Ethereum bashing. But it’s no laughing matter – there really isn’t a way to verify total ETH monetary supply.

The reference Ethereum full node implementation, geth, does not provide an API endpoint to query how much ETH there is in circulation. Worse yet, there isn’t a single number available! Every service seems to respond with a different value.

Leon, of @factcheckmypost ran the numbers [sic] and came up with a surprising result.

Querying 7 different sources yields 7 different numbers!

Pierre Rochard then challenged the Ethereum community to provide a single number for the Ethereum circulating supply. He put a 1 million Satoshi bounty up for anyone who provided an open source script that could correctly add up Ethereum supply.

A few hours later, a first script earned the million SAT bounty:

Rochard then put up more bounties for additional scripts:


Udi Wertheimer then coined the #SupplyGate hashtag.


The whole episode was both hilarious and highly concerning.

The fact is that there simply was no independent open-source way to verify Ethereum’s total monetary supply until now.

Everyone relied on Etherscan all this time!

(Keep in mind that Ethereum is 6 years old. )

Until this moment it hadn’t occurred to anyone to independently count how many ETH coins there were? This is a very basic application of blockchains : to walk the chain while verifying transactions and adding outputs.

Never a dull day in crypto!


Vitalik Tweet on ETH monetary policy

Official Ethereum Monetary Policy

What’s the Supply?

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Published by Gal Crypto - Geek crypto Gal stacking sats to get more tats! Information security enthusast, cryptocurrency early adopter and passionate about decentralized finance + fintechs. Front-end developer (Angular, PHP, React) and weekend skater. Learn More About Us