Parachain Family: Polkadot and Kusama

UTC by Andy Watson · 3 min read
Parachain Family: Polkadot and Kusama
Photo: Unsplash

Polkadot and Kusama make for a fantastic step forward in the blockchain space because they allow for scalability and interoperability.

Polkadot and Kusama are two closely related blockchain ecosystems. They both function as a means of allowing blockchains to communicate with one another. They do this by running a central Relay Chain that links up parachain slots. These slots allow developers to create projects without being limited to traditional isolated chains. As well as chains within the Kusama and Polkadot system, parachains can work with existing blockchains including Bitcoin and Ethereum. In the blockchain space, Kusama is described as a test network for Polkadot, which is inaccurate. Developments indeed run through Kusama before being implemented on Polkadot, but the two ecosystems run parallel to each other. This article will compare the two in terms of usage examples, speed, lean setup, and tech comparisons.

Lean Setups

When a developer wants to access the Kusama network, the amount needed to bid will be considerably lower. Through Kusama, validators can thrive because they have the opportunity to refine the entire infrastructure. Alongside great rewards, they also get to use the 1000 Validators Program. If you’re interested in working on Polkadot, apart from higher bonding requirements, the validating process is the same.


Speed is where Kusama KSM wins over Polkadot DOT. Kusama uses a slightly altered governance system, which accounts for faster updates. When we refer to speed here, we aren’t talking about the front end over the internet. When you load pages through both ecosystems, they will load at the same time. Instead, we refer to the rate at which key events happen, including the approved upgrades and referenda proposals.

If you’re wondering why the speed of change is faster on Kusama than Polkadot, it’s because Polkadot is a blockchain beast in comparison. Polkadot needs time to nurture its infrastructure and get it right. Kusama, on the other hand, is perfect for testing and proposing changes that can impact the Polkadot network. If updates fail on the Kusama network, the Polkadot ecosystem knows not to adopt it.

Tech Comparisons

Polkadot and Kusama are both decentralized, which means they will independently evolve alongside their community demands. When it comes to the underlying tech, Kusama was built using an early edition of the same code that Polkadot uses. The architecture they sit on is the same from the Nominated Proof-of-Stake to the multi-chain setup. When you put both of these ecosystems side-by-side, there isn’t much different tech-wise.

Usage Examples

Although Kusama and Polkadot are two separate systems, their user bases are completely different. Typically, developers who use Kusama will also try to secure a space on the Polkadot network. That way, they use the Kusama network to experiment with before moving over to the more powerful Polkadot ecosystem. This experimentation cycle is obvious, with Moonbeam and Chainlink both confirming they work this way.

Polkadot and Kusama make for a fantastic step forward in the blockchain space because they allow for scalability and interoperability. Despite being separate, Kusama is typically used as a test center before Polkadot transitioning takes place.

Andy Watson
Author Andy Watson

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