Appchains. What Are They? What I Have Learned.

By B18 | B18CCS | 7 May 2023

Up until today I had not heard the term Appchain used in the crypto media, publish0x posts or in the crypto social media. But then I am a beach bum who lives under a rock and some things can easily slip me by.

The Back Story

We had some down time at work today, so decided to catch some shut eye in the bottom deck of the crane.


Playing on the phone has the effect of sending me to la la land very quickly. Something to do with staring at such a small screen.

Scrolling through the email inbox spotted the latest issue of the “Onchain” newsletter from CoinJar.


Into The Cosmos Of Appchains

Is the future full of Appchains, or is this just a phase?

That was the end of any thoughts of producing zzzz’s. Not only was I to learn what an Appchain was, the heading also mentions Cosmos.


We have been collecting Cosmos blockchain’s native token ATOM for a few years now and have a decent stack. Thanks to staking this stack keeps getting bigger. 

Always eager to read more about Cosmos and every now and then there is a Cosmos post here on Publish0x. So here is my contribution.

What Are Appchains?

Appchain stands for application-specific chain, which is a blockchain dedicated to a single app.


Appchains normally run on top of layer-1 blockchains such as Ethereum, tapping into the Layer-1s security and development tools.

Which brings us to Cosmos (and Polkadot). Both ecosystems have built their infrastructure around the Appchain thesis.

While Ethereum has developed the most dynamic DeFi ecosystem, every time Pepe and his memecoin friends rally, so do the gas fees. This isn't very good for a dApp that has 1,000’s of transactions to process and now has to compete with others for block space (read gas fees).

What Do Appchains Offer?

Some dApps have very specific requirements for their use case. That's when they can opt for an Appchain.

Appchains offer:

  • customisability: appchains provide freedom in making trade-offs as needed for one's industry or use case.
  • performance: on an appchain, the only users are users of your app. There is no competition with other apps, providing a perfect environment to maintain low fees.
  • value capture: instead of paying fees to the layer-1 network, apps can capture more of the value created directly.

For example, Gaming is a great fit for Appchains as it requires a high volume of small transactions. And users don't get all “maxied” up about which chain their game is on.

Last year, dydx announced they are to move away from Ethereum L1 and build an Appchain. The derivatives trading platform chose Cosmos for its Appchain, as it enables seamless communication between chains in its ecosystem and allows dydx to optimize for high-volume trading.

Both Cosmos and Polkadot both took about 5 years of development before launching their first full version. So getting Appchains right is not an easy task. But then getting the EVM right is still a work in progress. 

Disclaimer: You may have noticed that Cosmos got 9 mentions (and in bold italics), while poor old Polkadot only gets 2 mentions.

We were collecting DOT for awhile. By the time we had 80 DOT for staking they had increased the minimum to 120. We were chasing our tail as they then increased to 180 DOT. So it took awhile to accumulate enough DOT. 

What a complicated staking mechanism. Was allowed up to choose 16 validators. Only the top 240 stakers per validator received rewards. None of the validators I chose ever got to do any validating hence never received any staking rewards. Got the feeling that it was set-up to favour the whales and not the shrimps.

So our relationship with DOT didn’t last very long. In contrast staking ATOM only requires claiming the rewards.

The End




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I am a sun sea and sand person, chocolatier, grows organic vegetables, rides a Vespa and collects crypto.


B18 Crypto Consultancy Services. Helping no-coiners get into crypto since Feb 2021. Using Task Based Learning.

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