Parachains are Kusama’s advanced, next-generation blockchains that bring several breakthroughs compared to legacy networks. Together they form the Kusama ecosystem, an interconnected network of specialized chains breaking down the walls of the centralized web.
While other blockchain networks only allow developers to build dapps using smart contracts, Kusama gives them full control over the underlying blockchain itself. This flexibility gives parachain developers the maximum freedom to optimize for specific use cases — which means better and more secure dapps and services for all.
A single, limiting design for the entire network. No ability to optimize for specific use cases, so compromises and tradeoffs must be made.
Parachains are specialized for a multitude of use cases, enabling more optimized services and thriving, multifaceted economies.
Most blockchains are like walled gardens, cut off from each other and unable to communicate, prohibiting the free flow of data and commerce.
Parachains are a rich, interconnected ecosystem where data flows freely between chains, leading to innovative new interoperable services.
Transactions are processed one-by-one, leading to bottlenecks, network congestion and high fees when dapp usage spikes.
Parachains process transactions “in parallel”, spreading them across the entire multichain network for maximum scalability.
Like all software, blockchains need periodic upgrades to stay relevant. Upgrading most blockchains is painstaking, making them slow to evolve and respond as new technology becomes available.
Kusama makes upgrading a blockchain more like upgrading a conventional app, with the ability to make most updates seamlessly and automatically in the background.
Legacy blockchains are dependent on centralized organizations to finance activities that benefit the network, and communities as a whole have no financial agency.
Parachains can leverage on-chain treasuries, giving decentralized communities the financial agency once limited to corporations and governments.
Most blockchains have no formal governance procedures. Individual stakeholders are often powerless to propose changes, with decisions made by opaque groups of insiders.
Parachains can leverage Kusama’s built-in, transparent governance features or create their own to implement the system that’s best for their community.
Securing blockchains requires a massive amount of resources, creating a significant barrier to entry for new chains and leading to competition for scarce resources between chains.
Parachains get robust security automatically when they connect to Kusama—no need to bootstrap their own network of miners or validators.
Building a conventional blockchain typically takes years of hard work and large teams of experts. Maintenance is costly and time consuming.
Parachains can use the Substrate blockchain framework to drastically simplify and speed up development and maintenance.
Fees on blockchains are often unpredictable, fluctuating based on short-term network usage and congestion.
Transaction fees are known in advance and fee structures can be customized by parachain teams. Users can pay fees in the parachain’s native token.
Blockchains and smart contracts are typically limited to a few basic transaction types, like sending funds or triggering a contract. Transactions between chains are limited and often mediated by centralized services.
Kusama allows any type of data to be sent between dapps and parachains, creating an interoperable internet of blockchains and opening the door to a host of innovative new services.
From DeFi to identity and supply chain, gaming and NFTs, IoT, DAOs, and more, parachains can be built for any use case. They can also take on various forms depending on their intended function, including:
Parachains can act autonomously based on the will of their communities to participate in Kusama governance and allocate on-chain treasuries. This opens the door to new decentralized funding models, from project funding to decentralized sovereign wealth funds and even cross-chain mergers and acquisitions.
With their own communities, rules, economies, governance, treasuries, and relationships with external chains, parachains are akin to decentralized digital nations. Kusama allows them to come together, communicate and share security guarantees for the betterment of the entire ecosystem.
Parachains connect to Kusama by leasing a parachain slot via auction. Parachain slots can be leased for up to 1 year at a time with the option to renew, and grant the parachain continuous connection to the network for the duration of the lease.
To bid in an auction, parachain teams agree to lock up (or bond) a portion of Kusama’s native token, KSM, for the duration of the lease. While bonded for a lease, the KSM cannot be used for other activities like staking or transfers.
After the lease, the full amount of KSM is unlocked, meaning auctions do not require teams to “spend” KSM. The cost of running a parachain on Kusama is best characterized as the opportunity cost of not being able to use the bonded KSM for other activities.
Some parachain teams will fund their bid with the help of a crowdloan campaign, which allows them to accept contributions from KSM holders. Crowdloan contributors get their KSM back at the end of the lease, and parachain teams can choose to reward them in various ways, including with a distribution of the parachain’s native token.
Auctions on Kusama have an open bidding period of approximately 1 week. At the end of the week, the precise moment of the auction’s close is determined retroactively. This prevents last-minute “auction sniping” and promotes more accurate price discovery. Parachains can onboard to Kusama immediately after the auction.
Learn more about how auctions and crowdloans work in this in-depth video explainer.
Three limited edition NFTs were created to celebrate the launch of Kusama parachains. Representing three interpretations of the Kusama canary by Berlin street artists Awer, Vidam and Andreas Preis, the paintings were created on a section of the Berlin wall now used as an open canvas for free artistic expression. The collection was limited to 9,999 NFTs, which have already been claimed.