Unleashing the Potential of Kusama
Learn the benefits of launching a parachain on Kusama, Polkadot’s Canary Network
What Does Kusama Do?
Kusama is an open testing environment for Polkadot, which enables developers to experiment with their new blockchains or applications before the main release. Kusama acts as a type of proving ground for developers looking to trial early versions of Polkadot projects, but involving actual cryptocurrency transacted on an open market. This article will explore the benefits and features of Kusama and explain why so many projects, like Pendulum, first launch a sister parachain on Kusama, like Amplitude. Amplitude won Kusama’s auction 42 after raising over $1m in KSM.
- Early-stage start-up network
- Allows experimentation but with real financial consequences
- Suitable for applications that don’t yet require high-grade security and robustness
- A pre-production environment for the Polkadot ecosystem
Polkadot acts as one of the primary networks for the deployment of enterprise-level applications and those that entail high-value transactions requiring bank-level security and stability.
A primary use case for Kusama is as a pre-production environment, a so-called “canary network”. This term refers to when coal miners would place canaries in coal mine tunnels as a way to gauge the amount of poisonous gasses present. Likewise, canary testing is a way to validate software by releasing software to a limited community of users, or in an isolated environment.
Releases made onto Kusama can be designated Canary Releases and usually happen in stages. Kusama’s network isn’t just used for parachain candidates to innovate and test changes, but also as a proof of concept for Polkadot’s sharded model. In the standard blockchain development pipeline, Kusama sits somewhere between a “testnet” and a “mainnet”.
Benefits of Launching a Parachain on Kusama:
- Low barriers to entry for parachain release
- Minimal bond prerequisites for validators and parachains
- Low slashing costs
- Rapid prototyping and improvement
The key technical differentiator between Polkadot and Kusama is that Kusama has an altered governance structure that allows for quicker upgrades. Kusama can be four times faster than Polkadot, with seven days for token holders to vote on referendums with a subsequent enactment window of eight days, following which the referendum will be enacted on the chain. Therefore, stakeholders need to remain active and alert if they wish to keep up with all the proposals, referenda and upgrades. Validators on Kusama often need to update with short notice.
With Polkadot’s governance structure, every 28 days a new referendum will come up for a vote. This does not mean that the Kusama blockchain itself is technically faster, in terms of faster block times or transaction processing but that there’s a smaller amount of time between governance events such as proposing new referenda, voting, and enacting approved upgrades. This allows Kusama to adapt and evolve faster than Polkadot.
For more information on how voting on referenda on Polkadot and Kusama see this video:
Our favorite case study of a successful Kusama parachain is of course Pendulum’s sister chain, Amplitude. On 3rd July 2022 Amplitude won the Kusama auction 42. Amplitude & Pendulum aim to build the missing link between fiat and DeFi through a fiat-optimized smart contract blockchain. Fintech and forex providers will be able to integrate their fiat services with DeFi applications such as specialized forex AMMs, lending protocols and yield farming opportunities. Amplitude will act as a testing ground for applications & network parameters for Pendulum and be powered by the native AMPE token. AMPE has a community-first tokenomics structure and the token utilities include powering transactions, staking to secure the network & earn rewards and governing the protocol.
Kusama network offers many advantages for developers wishing to launch a parachain prior to a Polkadot launch. From crowdloan funding, to lower bond requirements, lower slashing costs and a faster governance structure. Kusama enables the Polkadot ecosystem, and every parachain it hosts, to be among the most battle tested and resilient blockchain projects conceivable.