One of the most important types of crypto projects are the ones that act as development frameworks for launching decentralized apps (dapps). Such projects act as springboards for various crypto platforms. According to available data, the Polkadot (DOT) ecosystem is among the top dapp development frameworks, while the Kusama network (KSM) is a vital part of the Polkadot ecosystem. Many crypto enthusiasts wonder what the differences are when comparing Polkadot vs Kusama since both networks have numerous similarities. Moreover, Polkadot programmers often use Kusama development tools, and the Kusama network is convenient for testing Polkadot apps before launch. Furthermore, a new Polkadot governance model is going through a Kusama governance trial phase. However, the news isn’t making a considerable impact on the Kusama coin price, which is mostly down, just like the rest of the crypto market. 

This article dives into the details of the Polkadot vs Kusama debate to find out how the crypto cousins compare against each other. We explore the critical features of Polkadot and the Kusama network and check out how the two projects work. Also, we’ll take a look at the key differences and similarities between the two projects. Additionally, we’ll check the proposed Polkadot governance model and how it will look during the Kusama governance test phase. 

Learn the essentials of blockchain technology and Bitcoin at Moralis Academy. 

What is Polkadot?

Polkadot is a highly versatile crypto project that allows developers to launch all sorts of dapps on a fast and highly scalable sharded blockchain network. One of the founders of Polkadot is Gavin Wood, a member of the original Ethereum developer team. The project itself has been active since May 2020. Gavin Wood’s company, Parity Technologies, is the developer team behind Polkadot. Furthermore, the network’s DOT coin has a firm position among the top 20 cryptocurrencies.  

The Polkadot project is part of a highly competitive crypto market segment because it offers dapp-development and crypto token launching resources. Polkadot is an all-in-one blockchain framework. Developers can use Polkadot to launch anything from DeFi and yield farming protocols to NFT apps, collections, and crypto games. Essentially, Polkadot is a Web3-focused project that boasts of providing users with features that make it the internet of blockchains. Also, Polkadot uses a sharded, multichain network structure that allows developers to launch custom blockchains. 

Despite being relatively young, the project managed to attract numerous developer teams that use Polkadot to launch their decentralized platforms. Moreover, the Polkadot ecosystem already has 74 parachains as of December 31, 2022. Additionally, the network has around 200 active developer teams and some 550 projects that use Polkadot technology.

JavaScript is one of the essential Web2 programming languages and is the basis of various Web3 languages. Learn JavaScript programming at Moralis Academy. 

The Polkadot Operational Mechanism

Unlike some other popular blockchains for launching dapps, Polkadot doesn’t host custom dapps on its main chain. Instead, the network uses a sharded multichain architecture that lets developers build their own blockchains on Polkadot. Each of these blockchains are parachains that run parallel to the Polkadot main chain. The Polkadot main chain is the Relay Chain. Because of this feature that allows developers to create parachains, Polkadot is a Layer-0 metachain rather than a layer-1 blockchain. For example, Ethereum is a layer-1 network that enables users to launch their own crypto tokens and underlying layer-2 networks like Polygon (MATIC). However, layer-2 networks heavily rely on the layer-1 network’s structure.

Polkadot-based Layer-1 networks have more independence and can seamlessly interact with each other because they use similar infrastructure. Since Polkadot is a meta protocol, the developer team can implement both minor and significant code updates without creating new fork blockchains. These characteristics give a high degree of programming flexibility to the Polkadot developer team and programmers that build upon Polkadot resources. 

The Polkadot blockchain itself uses a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. Validator nodes approve transactions based on their stake in the Polkadot network. Users stake DOT coins and, in turn, get a portion of the transaction fees for participating in the network’s consensus mechanism. However, Polkadot uses a variation of PoS called Nominated Proof-of-Stake (NPoS). Validators approve transactions, while nominators select validator nodes and back them with their stake of DOT coins. The mechanism prevents the concentration of power in validator nodes. Instead, nominators give authority to validator nodes, and the dual mechanism adds an additional layer of security to all Polkadot-based parachains. 

The Polkadot Governance Model

Although Polkadot is the product of Web3 Foundation (W3F) and Parity Technologies, the protocol’s governance gives power to the Polkadot community. So how does Polkadot governance work? The Polkadot governance model uses referendums to introduce updates and changes within the ecosystem. Community members must stake DOT coins to participate in the Polkadot governance model.

The original Polkadot governance model is Gov1, and it divides governing authority between the Polkadot referendum chamber, technical committee, and the Polkadot council. The referendum chamber consists of all Polkadot holders eligible to vote based on their staked DOT coins. Furthermore, users can propose referendums by locking up a certain amount of DOT coins through the governance protocol. Also, council members and technical committee members can propose referendums at any time. These are the basics of the Polkadot governance model. However, the initial Polkadot governance model proved quite complex, and Gavin Wood recently announced the introduction of the Gov2 model. 

The goal of Gov2, also called OpenGov, is to simplify the Polkadot governance model and allow every Polkadot user to initiate referendums. Users will be able to initiate referendums at any time. If the Polkadot stakeholders reject a proposal, users can resubmit the same referendum later if they wish to try to implement their proposal once more. Also, during Gov1, the decision-making process was relatively slow, and there was only one referendum at a time. Gov2 aims to give more authority to DOT holders while decentralizing the governance protocol. In the future, there won’t be any more Polkadot council, and the council’s authority will pass on to the broader Polkadot community. 

Kusama Network

Every Web3 project needs a reliable blockchain service provider. Learn about the top blockchain service providers in 2023 at Moralis Academy. 

What is Kusama?

The Kusama network is a close cousin of Polkadot. In fact, many in the crypto community call it Polkadot’s “wild cousin” because it acts as a testing ground for numerous Polkadot projects. Gavin Wood, the founder of Polkadot, is also the founder of the Kusama network. The two networks are sister projects rather than competitors. Furthermore, the idea behind Kusama was to create a programming sandbox for Polkadot apps. Developers can use Kusama to experiment with different dapp structures, programming tools, and platform architectures. In a way, Kusama acts as a testnet for Polkadot apps, but it isn’t literally a testnet. The Kusama network is a standalone blockchain framework built with the Substrate programming kit. 

Polkadot itself is actually the result of thorough testing on the Kusama network since Kusama is older than Polkadot. After the launch of Polkadot, the developer team decided to keep Kusama active and use it for future Polkadot development instead of scrapping the project. Moreover, with the growth of the Polkadot ecosystem, Kusama proved very useful for developers looking to test their Polkadot projects. 

Kusama coin price

Web3 is here to stay, and it’s transforming the internet with the help of blockchain technology. Learn how Web3 can change the world at Moralis Academy. 

The Operational Mechanism of the Kusama Network

The operational mechanism behind the Kusama network is the same as that of Polkadot, with minor differences. Also, developers can take advantage of essential Polkadot features, such as launching parachains on Kusama. Polkadot is more enterprise-focused than the Kusama network. However, Kusama allows developers to experiment more and launch projects faster than Polkadot. 

The testnet conditions on Kusama make it easy for developers to alter their parachains even after deployment. The developer teams don’t need to fork a parachain and create a new network when using Kusama. Instead, they can freely alter the base code of the parachain to find out what works best for their project. Polkadot offers similar features but is less flexible because the on-chain governance model is more complex and requires more time. 

Polkadot governance model

Start your crypto journey with the Crypto for Beginners course at Moralis Academy. 

The Implementation of OpenGov Within the Kusama Governance Model

Since Kusama is the testing ground for Polkadot apps and protocol updates, the Polkadot team chose to first implement the new OpenGov governance model on Kusama. Implementing OpenGov within the Kusama governance model is the final step before introducing Gov2 on Polkadot. The OpenGov model carries several key innovations for Kusama governance. According to the developer team, OpenGov will undergo a rigorous testing process as the new Kusama governance model in the following period. Once the test phase is over, Polkadot developers will propose implementing the Kusama governance model on Polkadot. As a result, both networks will have an identical governance protocol.

OpenGov dissolves the Polkadot council or, in this case, the Kusama council and delegates the council’s authority to the community. The council’s primary responsibility in Gov1 was representing the considerable portion of passive DOT holders. Any Polkadot/Kusama community member can propose referendums in OpenGov. Also, there’s no limit to the number of times someone can propose the same or similar referendum. Additionally, OpenGov introduces various improvements to the decision-making process to speed up referendums. Moreover, the OpenGov Kusama governance model is less centralized and handles more than one referendum at a time. Finally, users who agree to stake their DOT/KSM for longer get stronger voting rights called conviction voting. 

The Impact of OpenGov on the Kusama Coin Price

The Polkadot developers claim that OpenGov will help improve governance on Kusama and introduce a more efficient and decentralized decision-making model. But what is the impact of OpenGov on the Kusama coin price? Although OpenGov is important news for the protocol, and the community is enthusiastic about the change, the Kusama coin price didn’t show any changes following the announcement. The Kusama coin price is mostly down, in line with the current crypto bear market. 

However, parts of the community assume that once the market trend shifts, the Kusama coin price might show some upward price action. For now, the Kusama coin price is far below its all-time high of nearly 600 USD per coin. Currently, the Kusama coin price is almost 30 times lower. 

Kusama is a reputable cryptocurrency with a market cap of more than 200 million USD, and it’s available on most of the leading crypto exchanges. You can view a complete list of active KSM coin markets on CoinMarketCap and CoinGecko.

Kusama coin price

Web3 programming knowledge is essential for creating blockchain-based decentralized apps. Find out how to learn Web3 programming at Moralis. 

Polkadot vs Kusama: Key Differences 

Polkadot and Kusama share the same core features along with their dominant tech specifications since Polkadot is the product of Kusama. However, there are various key differences between the two networks. 

When comparing Polkadot vs Kusama, one of the most apparent differences is the adoption rate and the size of each project’s ecosystem. Although Kusama is older, Polkadot is far more popular and has a multi-billion dollar market cap. Developers can create a dapp exclusively for the Kusama network, but most developers choose to move on to Polkadot. Also, Polkadot is considerably more attractive to investors because of its vast ecosystem. The high number of active dapps and projects means more opportunities for connecting platforms and maximizing profits. 

However, Kusama is more flexible in terms of program testing than Polkadot, which is a crucial reason why many developers first create apps on Kusama. Both networks are highly scalable, but Kusama has a 1,000 transaction per second (TPS) throughput, while Polkadot can process 10,000 TPS. However, Kusama’s throughput is quite sufficient for the size of its ecosystem and app testing purposes. Additionally, Polkadot plans to expand its throughput to 100,000 TPS in the future. 

Kusama governance

Polkadot vs Kusama: Which One is Better?

It’s challenging to say for certain which project is better when comparing Polkadot vs Kusama because the two networks are complementary projects. The Kusama network is where a considerable portion of Polkadot projects start, and both networks use the same technology. Concerning business opportunities and commercial use, Polkadot has a significant advantage over Kusama. However, Kusama offers more choices for developers looking to play around and experiment with parachain projects. 

Polkadot vs Kusama: What is the Difference? – Summary

Polkadot is one of the largest ecosystems for launching decentralized apps on the crypto market. The network is a sort of “internet of blockchains” because of its ability to host countless parachains. However, Polkadot wouldn’t be possible without its predecessor, the Kusama network, which is where all the key features of Polkadot were born. The Polkadot ecosystem closed 2022 with significant growth levels in just one year after the launch of its parachain features. In conclusion, Kusama remains the Polkadot testing ground for all essential features, including the current test phase of the OpenGov governance model. 

Find out more about Polkadot and Kusama at Moralis Academy.