Kusama Is An Early, Highly Experimental Version Of Polkadot

What Is Kusama (KSM)?

Self-described as “Polkadot’s wild cousin,” Kusama is an experimental blockchain platform that is designed to provide a massively interoperable and scalable framework for developers.

Kusama is built on Substrate — a blockchain building kit developed by Parity Technologies. Kusama has almost the same codebase as Polkadot — one of the most successful interoperable blockchains.

By deploying on Kusama, fast-paced projects gain access to a highly scalable, interoperable sharded network, with features that are not yet available on Polkadot. To that end, Kusama describes itself as a “canary network.”

The platform is designed to provide a testbed for developers looking to innovate and deploy their own blockchain and can be used as a preparatory network before launching on Polkadot — though many projects opt to stick with Kusama for their final product.

Kusama benefits from a low barrier to entry for deploying parachains, low bond requirements for validators, and is most commonly used by early-stage startups and for experimentation.

In June 2019, the Web3 Foundation announced the private token sale of 500,000 DOT, or 5% of the total DOT supply. One month later, the Polkadot team announced the upcoming launch of the Kusama Network. To incentivize Polkadot users to participate on the experimental Kusama Network, DOT holders were able to claim one KSM for every DOT held. Eventually, the Polkadot developers plan to offer a fixed-rate conversion of KSM back to DOT.

Both Kusama and Polkadot offer on-chain governance protocols for KSM and DOT token holders. What makes Kusama different from Polkadot is that governance moves at a quicker pace. Because the two networks are standalone with different parameters for governance and different protocol votes, the governance structure of Kusama allows KSM holders to vote on protocol upgrades unique to the Kusama Network.

The Scalable, Multichain Network For Radical Innovation.

Unprecedented interoperability and scalability for blockchain developers who want to quickly push the limits of what’s possible. Built using Substrate with nearly the same codebase and industry-leading multichain infrastructure as Kusama’s cousin, Polkadot.

Kusama Network


Origin of Kusama

The relationship between society and technology has deteriorated to the point where large entities routinely stretch and overstep their authority.

Kusama is a network built as a risk-taking, fast-moving ‘canary in the coal mine’ for its cousin Polkadot. It’s a living platform built for change agents to take back control, spark innovation and disrupt the status quo.

Who Are The Founders Of Kusama? (History Of KSM)

Kusama was founded in 2016 by the creators of Polkadot: Gavin Wood, Peter Czaban, and Robert Habermeier. From July 2019 onwards, anyone can claim KSM if they held DOT indicator tokens at the time of Kusama’s genesis block.

The token sale for Polkadot (and thus Kusama) was handled by the Web3 Foundation, of which Gavin Wood is president. Kusama was released by Web3 before DOT, opening at a price of $1.71 in December 2019. The distribution of Kusama matched the distribution of Polkadot. Eligible users who had purchased DOT during the pre-sale were able to claim an equal amount of Kusama. 1% of KSM was reserved by the team for future incentives on the KSM network.

How Does Kusama Work?

The Kusama network allows for the creation of two types of blockchains. 

  • The Relay Chain – The main Kusama blockchain, this network is where transactions are finalized. To achieve a greater speed, the relay chain separates the addition of new transactions from the act of validating those transactions. 
  • Parachains – Parachains are custom blockchains that use the relay chain’s computing resources to confirm that transactions are accurate. 

The Relay Chain

To keep its network in agreement about the state of the system, the Kusama Relay Chain uses a variation on proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus called nominated proof-of-stake (NPoS).

This system allows anyone who stakes KSM by locking the cryptocurrency in a special contract to perform one or more of the following roles necessary to its operation:  

  • Validators – Validate data in parachain blocks. They also participate in consensus and vote on proposed changes to the network.
  • Nominators – Secure the Relay Chain by selecting trustworthy validators. Nominators delegate their staked KSM tokens to validators and thus allocate their votes to them.

Users who stake KSM and perform these roles are also eligible to receive KSM rewards.

Kusama CC-2: PrePoS. Kusama just got an upgrade | by Gavin Wood | Polkadot  Network | Medium

Kusama Governance 

Three types of Kusama users can influence the software’s development. 

These include:

  • The Referendum Chamber – Anyone who purchases KSM tokens can propose changes to the network and approve or reject major changes proposed by others. 
  • The Council – Elected by KSM holders, council members are responsible for proposing changes and determining which changes proposed by KSM holders are made to the software. The Council on Kusama started with seven seats, but is intended to increase as community interest grows
  • The Technical Committee – Composed of teams actively building Kusama, this group can make special proposals in the event of an emergency. Members of the technical committee are voted in by Council members.

Parachains As Autonomous Agents

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.

The Difference Between Kusama And Polkadot

Kusama is branded as a “canary network” for the Polkadot blockchain, meaning that it provides early code release that is unaudited and available before it is launched on Polkadot. 

The first key difference between the two networks is the speed of the governance system. In Kusama, it takes seven days to vote on a referendum and eight days to implement changes after the votes, compared to a month for each on Polkadot.

Second, becoming a validator on Kusama is much easier, as the minimum staking requirements are lower than in Polkadot.

It is important to keep in mind that Kusama is a blockchain for experimentation, and that it gives up stability and security to increase the speed of the network.

What Makes Kusama (KSM) Unique?

Kusama serves as a unique “Canary” testnet for Polkadot. Most blockchain ecosystems only use a testnet for developing their decentralized applications (dApps) and projects. By using a live blockchain network, Kusama is able to deliver a working market and testnet conditions that other chains are unable to. Kusama also takes advantage of modified governance parameters that allow it to operate up to four times faster than Polkadot.

Another feature of Kusama is the use of two blockchains, the main network and the user-generated networks (Parachains). Parachains are quite unique and allow users to run separate layer-1 blockchains in concurrence with the Kusama network. Being able to run unique layer-1s that are tied to the Relay Chain not only ensures the security of the Parachains but greatly increases the scalability and interoperability of the Kusama network.

How Many Kusama (KSM) Coins Are In Circulation?

As of May 2021, Kusama has a circulating supply of 8,980,098 KSM tokens out of a total supply of 10,000,000 KSM. There is no maximum supply of KSM as the token is subject to the same 10% annual inflation rate as DOT. The distribution of the newly minted KSM tokens depends on the proportion of KSM staked, with Kusama validators receiving all-new tokens when exactly half of the KSM supply is staked. If the amount of KSM staked is above or below 50%, some of the inflation goes to the Kusama Treasury. KSM tokens can be purchased on the secondary market. KSM can also be earned through participation in Kusama’s dual node network.

How To Choose A Kusama (KSM) Wallet

The type of Kusama (KSM) wallet you choose will likely depend on what you want to use it for and how much you need to store.

Hardware wallets or cold wallets provide the most secure option with offline storage and backup. Both Ledger and Trezor hardware wallets offer storage solutions for KSM. Hardware wallets can involve a bit more of a learning curve and are a more expensive option, however. As such, they may be better suited to storing larger amounts of KSM for more experienced users.

Software wallets provide another option and are free and easy to use. They are available to download as smartphone or desktop apps and can be custodial or non-custodial. With custodial wallets, the private keys are managed and backed up on your behalf by the service provider. Non-custodial wallets make use of secure elements on your device to store the private keys. While convenient, they are seen as less secure than hardware wallets and may be better suited to smaller amounts of Kusama (KSM) or more novice users.

Online wallets or web wallets are also free and easy to use and accessible from multiple devices using a web browser. They are considered hot wallets and can be less secure than hardware or software alternatives, however. As you are likely trusting the platform to manage your KSM, you should select a reputable service with a track record in security and custody. As such, they are most suited for holding smaller amounts or for more experienced frequent traders.

Kriptomat offers a secure storage solution, allowing you to both store and trade your Kusama (KSM) tokens without hassle. Storing your KSM with Kriptomat provides you with enterprise-grade security and user-friendly functionality.

Buying and selling KSM, or exchanging them for any other cryptocurrency, is done in mere moments when you choose our secure platform as your storage solution.

Features Of Kusama

Kusama has several obvious features but also acts as its ecosystem within the larger Polkadot ecosystem. The biggest one is its nearly identical resemblance to the Polkadot architecture and structure.

It acts as a testnet, but the term doesn’t quite cover the level of testing projects can conduct before launching their parachains on Polkadot.

Kusama is continuously battle-testing not just the various projects on it but the ecosystem itself.  It is always one step ahead of Polkadot, trying out new features that the latter would like to eventually deploy once the kinks are worked out, providing the team with a vehicle that allows them to be much more innovative and take big risks, without putting the Polkadot ecosystem in danger.

Other features on Kusama include:

  • Participate by acquiring KSM, Kusama’s native token. According to Polkadot’s wiki, Those who participated in the Polkadot sale can claim a proportional amount of KSM through the Kusama Claims process.
  • Acquiring a parachain slot (necessary for testing on Kusama making this is a major feature). Chains can be voted in as “common good” parachains, win a parachain auction, or set up as a “parathread,” which is essentially a pay-as-you-go access with an auction for each block.
  • Set up as a validator. This is an excellent way to walk through the process and understand expectations/requirements before moving to Polkadot, as the minimum requirement for staking on Kusama is lower.  Alternately, users can set themselves up as a nominator, a role that requires some staking but allows a “set it and forget it” approach. Nominators appoint their stake to validators and get either a portion of the reward percentage or are slashed if the validator they nominated acts poorly and is slashed.
  • Staking also allows users to propose and vote on referendums, which will help the network evolve and improve over time.

Pros And Cons

This Bird Breaks Down Walls.
Parachain Launch NFTs

Three limited edition NFTs were created to celebrate the launch of Kusama parachains. Representing three interpretations of the Kusama canary by Berlin street artists AwerVidam 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.




Kusama is a well-supported blockchain solution with good utility. However, Kusama is also a ‘canary network’ for the better-known Polkadot network, meaning that it is used as a testing ground for projects on Polkadot. This should be taken into consideration when assessing the long-term sustainability of the project.

General consensus among the KSM price prediction forecasters is that KSM will continue to increase in price, although it must be said that these digital forecasters do not take into account certain volatility factors. They should be just one aspect of your due diligence exercise.

Be sure to read all available white papers, social media coverage, news releases and the website before placing an investment. Your investment choices are your own. This article presents you with neutral information and should not be misconstrued as financial advice.



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