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About Kusama

Kusama is an experimental blockchain network that serves as a “canary network” for Polkadot. It allows developers to build and deploy parachain, parathread, and smart contract functionality in a real environment before deploying to Polkadot. Kusama provides a proving ground for developers looking to innovate and iterate quickly at low cost.

Kusama Origin and Creation

Kusama was founded in 2019 by Dr. Gavin Wood, one of the co-founders of Ethereum and the founder of Polkadot. The network was built using the same codebase as Polkadot, with the key difference being that Kusama functions as an experimental sandbox environment whereas Polkadot is focused on stability and security for enterprise use cases.

The purpose of Kusama is to provide an open environment for teams developing parachains to test their products before deploying to Polkadot. Kusama enables fast innovation by allowing developers to experiment without worrying about security and stability.

How Kusama Works

Like Polkadot, Kusama utilizes a sharded multichain architecture, which allows it to scale and process transactions in parallel across multiple chains. The network is made up of a central Relay Chain which coordinates consensus and interoperability between parachains – application-specific blockchains that connect to the network.

Kusama uses a nominated proof-of-stake (NPoS) consensus mechanism to validate transactions. KSM holders can nominate validators to validate transactions and secure the network. Validators stake KSM to run infrastructure and are rewarded with fees for their work.

The platform also allows parachains to seamlessly communicate with each other via the Relay Chain, enabling cross-chain interoperability. This functionality powers Kusama’s smart contract layer.

Kusama Consensus Mechanism

As mentioned earlier, Kusama utilizes a nominated proof-of-stake (NPoS) consensus mechanism. NPoS allows KSM holders to nominate validators to validate transactions on their behalf. The nominators can spread their nominations across multiple validators to mitigate risk.

The validators run network infrastructure by staking KSM. In exchange, they earn block rewards and transaction fees for their work. Having their stake at risk incentivizes validators to honestly validate transactions and secure the network.

If validators misbehave or go offline frequently, their nominators will move nominations to other honest validators. This keeps the network secure while allowing stakeholders to earn passive income via staking.

Advantages of Kusama

  • Low Barriers to Entry: Kusama has relatively low barriers to entry compared to launching on Polkadot directly. Teams can build on Kusama for reduced costs given the lower token prices.
  • Fast Innovation: The network values fast innovation, iteration and deployment. Changes can be tested rapidly without compromising security and stability.
  • Interoperability: Seamless interoperability between parachains unlocks new use cases like decentralized finance across chains.
  • Onramp to Polkadot: Kusama provides a proving ground for teams before deploying parachains on Polkadot, which has much higher requirements.
  • Aligned Incentives: Nominated proof-of-stake creates aligned incentives between builders, validators, and nominators to secure the network.

Disadvantages of Kusama

  • Lower Security Than Polkadot: By nature of being an experimental environment, Kusama has lower security guarantees than Polkadot which focuses on stability and security.
  • Higher Network Churn: Because teams can quickly build and scrap parachains on Kusama, the network experiences more churn than Polkadot.
  • Lesser Decentralization: Given smaller market cap and lower token prices, Kusama is likely more centralized in terms of stakeholders than Polkadot.
  • Unproven at Scale: While Kusama functions well today, it is unclear how the network will scale transaction capacity to rival other L1s. True scalability still needs to be proven.

Future Outlook for Kusama

Kusama has an exciting future roadmap planned. Development is underway for key upgrades like parachain slots auctions, which will allow projects to bid for precious parachain slots to connect to the network.

Demand for these slots is likely to be high given Kusama’s popularity as a proving ground. This will provide a revenue stream to the network while allowing the best projects to develop on Kusama.

Other key upgrades include economic parachain upgrades, further runtime optimizations, and improvements to the cross-chain message format for enhanced interoperability. Expect rapid iterations and innovations to continue on Kusama.


Kusama serves a vital role in Polkadot’s broader vision of an interoperable internet of blockchains. By providing an agile, experimental environment, Kusama enables rapid innovation that will ultimately benefit the entire Polkadot ecosystem.

Teams building on Kusama appreciate the low barriers to entry, fast iteration capabilities, and interoperability offered by the network. However, the network is less decentralized and secure than Polkadot.

Going forward, Kusama looks to boost capacity, functionality, and decentralization even further – cementing its status as the wild cousin of Polkadot for deploying radical blockchain innovations.


Kusama (KSM) is an experimental blockchain platform that allows developers to build and deploy decentralized applications before launching them on Polkadot. Kusama serves as a sandbox for teams looking to test new blockchain ideas.

Kusama was founded in 2019 by Dr. Gavin Wood, one of the co-founders of Ethereum. After leaving Ethereum, Wood started the Web3 Foundation and used it to fund the development of Polkadot and Kusama.

Kusama’s native KSM tokens can be purchased on several cryptocurrency exchanges including Binance, Huobi Global and Kraken. KSM can be traded against USDT, BTC and ETH.

For secure storage of KSM tokens, a non-custodial wallet like IronWallet is recommended. Non-custodial wallets give users full control of private keys, reducing risk.

Kusama distinguishes itself by promoting interoperability between different blockchains. The Substrate blockchain framework allows seamless integration of various chains. Kusama also has faster block times than Ethereum, improving transaction speeds.

Kusama uses a proof-of-stake consensus, so KSM tokens cannot be mined. Validators can stake KSM to help secure the network in return for rewards. Kusama aims for decentralization with over 1,000 validator nodes.

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