Top Things You Should Know About Kusama Network (KSM)

Top Things You Should Know About Kusama Network (KSM)

By MuyAsk | Crypto Truth Lexicon | 6 Oct 2020

Hey guys :) I’m back with another comprehensive Q&A piece, this time for the fast-moving and experimental development environment for Polkadot – Kusama Network (KSM).

Kusama is an early, unaudited, and unrefined release of Polkadot that aims to serve as a testing ground for Polkadot. In essence, Kusama is to Polkadot what Rinkeby is to Ethereum, it exists for testing. 

Now, before we dive in, the following piece is similar to my latest articles on Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), Uniswap (UNI), and Curve (CRV), so if you haven’t already seen those, be sure to check them out as well. 

Hope you enjoy!

The list of Q&A is kind of long so first comes the list of questions that I have prepared the answers to:

  1. What is Kusama Network?
  2. Who and When Created Kusama?
  3. What is the $KSM Token Used For?
  4. What Are Some Notable Projects Using Kusama?
  5. What is the main goal of Kusama?
  6. How is Kusama affiliated with Web3 Foundation?
  7. Can You Mine/Stake $KSM?
  8. Is $KSM Token Compatible With Polkadot Blockchain?
  9. Where to Store Kusama $KSM?
  10. Where to Buy & Sell Kusama $KSM?

1. What is Kusama Network?


Kusama Network website homepage

Kusama is a scalable network of specialized blockchains built using Substrate, a modular blockchain framework with nearly the same codebase as its cousin, Polkadot. 

The Kusama network is an experimental development environment for teams who want to move fast and innovate on Kusama, and/or prepare for deployment on Polkadot. It serves to help detect any kind of vulnerabilities or weaknesses in the Polkadot code base.

In this sense, Kusama is said to be the “canary in the coal mine” for Polkadot, an idiom that comes from the use of canaries in coal mines to give warning to miners by detecting carbon monoxide and other toxic gases that could hurt them. 

That said, Kusama is a sort of testbed in which innovative developers can test and deploy parachains on the Polkadot project and try out Polkadot’s governance, staking, nomination, and validation functionality in a real environment. 

However, Kusama is not a testnet. It is much more than that because it’s operating in a real live environment and has real value. In fact, as of October 5, 2020, Kusama has a market cap of $271,231,993 USD with its native cryptocurrency $KSM valued at around $32 

Kasuma Network Features

Developers on Kusama gain access to the latest tech from Parity Technologies and Web3 Foundation even before those features make it to Polkadot. Therefore, Kusama offers developers the ability to innovate like never before and gives them a jump on the competition.

Kusama offers scalable infrastructure through its sharded blockchains and open governance to provide future-proof infrastructure for businesses, marketplaces, and applications to deploy and mature.

Kusama brings multiple blockchains together into one sharded network, freeing developers from the siloes created by legacy blockchain networks.

Built on Substrate, Kusama enables developers to build their own app-specific blockchains and connect it to Kusama.

2. Who and When Created Kusama?


Kusama founder, Gavin Wood

Kusama was founded by Dr. Gavin Wood who launched the network on August 23, 2019, to supplement Polkadot as a sort of testing grounds. 

In addition to founding Kusama, Dr. Wood is also a founder of Polkadot, Ethereum, Parity Technologies, Grid Singularities, and the Web3 Foundation. 

Prior to founding any of these notable blockchain organizations and projects, Wood worked as a Research Scientist at Microsoft and has Consulting, Developing, and Directing experience at various other companies. 

Dr. Wood is also highly educated, receiving his Masters of Computer Systems/Software Engineering and his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the University of York.

Dr. Wood first got involved with blockchain technologies at a professional level in 2013 when he invented Solidity (Ethereum’s programming language) and wrote the Yellow Paper specifying the Ethereum Virtual Machine.

After that, Dr. Wood served as the Ethereum Foundation's first chief technology officer and later left Ethereum in 2016 to co-found Parity Technologies, which develops core infrastructure for Ethereum, Bitcoin, Zcash, and Polkadot.

All in all, Dr. Gavin Wood is one of the brightest and most respected minds in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space as he has done, and continues to do, a lot to move the industry forward. 

3. What is the $KSM Token Used For?


Kusama $KSM token logo

The native cryptocurrency of the Kusama Network is $KSM which is utilized for the network’s operations. Participants in Polkadot’s ICO are qualified to claim an equivalent amount of KSM on the Kusama Network.

$KSM serves multiple purposes such as:

  • Governance - to vote on protocol updates, fixes, validators, and improvement proposals
  • Staking - to validate the network
  • Bonding - supporting new parachains or parathreads
  • Fees - for transmitting messages across parachains

As of October 2, 2020, Kusama has a total supply of 9,651,217 KSM with 8,470,098 KSM tokens in circulation. 

4. What Are Some Notable Projects Using Kusama?


Kusama has many innovative early-stage Polkadot deployment projects including:

  • Airalab - Set of open-source packages and infrastructure for Robotics, Smart Cities, and Industry 4.0 developers
  • Forging Block - Decentralized cryptocurrency payments gateway
  • Acala - Cross-chain DeFi hub and stablecoin of Polkadot and Kusama
  • Chainlink - Decentralized oracle network
  • Moonbeam - Decentralized and permissionless smart contract platform for dapps
  • Phala Network -  Confidential data exchange protocol
  • Edgeware -  High-performance, self-upgrading WASM smart contract platform

Other Kusama projects with build examples can be found here.

5. What is the main goal of Kusama?


The main goal of Kusama is to support Polkadot by building a parallel blockchain network that allows experimentation and development with very realistic conditions. 

Its purpose is to allow developers to take risks and move fast in order to accelerate the development of innovative parachains and decentralized applications (dapps). Kusama is to Polkadot what Rinkeby is to Ethereum, it will always exist for testing and innovating. 

That said, Kusama is a network for developers that offers the following key features:

Fast Iteration
Developers can move fast and ship their product quickly on the Kusama Network. Kusama is built to allow developers to move swiftly through the governance and upgrade process, enabling rapid progress and growth.

Low Economic Barriers
Kusama is an ideal custom blockchain (parachain) solution for startups because of its low barriers to entry and encouragement of fast-moving development.

Advanced Technology
Kusama offers a next-generation, sharded, multichain network with the latest features before they are deployed on Polkadot.

Open Governance
Kusama is owned and governed by its network of participants who can vote on and shape the evolution of the network. 

Engaged Community
Developers on Kusama can leverage Polkadot’s global brand and developer community to help bring their project into the spotlight.

Valuable Experience
Kusama offers developers the opportunity to begin building their community and brand on Kusama before deployment on Polkadot, giving them a head start in the blockchain race.

6. How is Kusama affiliated with Web3 Foundation?


Web3 Foundation logo

Kusama is affiliated with the Web3 Foundation because Polkadot is the foundation's flagship product and Dr. Gavin Wood is the founder of Kusama, Polkadot, and the Web3 Foundation.

That said, Web3 Foundation is supporting the Kusama project and its open-source team through funding, advocacy, research, and collaborations.

7. Can You Mine/Stake $KSM?

You can stake $KSM but you cannot mine $KSM.

Kusama employs a Nominated Proof-of-Stake (NPoS) consensus model where validators of the network are elected based on their $KSM stake quantity and the stakes of those who are voting for them.

Kusama Network validators are nominated based on the following metrics:

  • The total amount staked by the nominee and their nominators
  • The stake behind the minimally staked validator
  • The variance of the stake in a set

If you are a $KSM token holder who doesn’t have the required number of $KSM tokens to become a validator, you can still delegate your tokens to a Kusama validator and earn rewards while keeping custody of your assets. 

Delegating your $KSM tokens can be done via a third-party staking service provider like Staked or it can be done manually via the Polkadot UI

8. Is $KSM Token Compatible With Polkadot Blockchain?


Polkadot (DOT) logo

Yes, Kusama’s $KSM token is fully compatible with the Polkadot blockchain as both Kusama and Polkadot are built with nearly the same codebase and industry-leading multichain infrastructure. 

The only key difference between the two is that Kusama has modified governance parameters that allow for faster network upgrades to encourage fast-moving development and innovation. 

Kusama’s network requires just seven days to vote on referendums and eight days to implement those upgrades after a vote, while Polkadot’s governance process is much more in-depth and takes far longer to implement upgrades and changes. 

Moreover, in addition to Kusama’s $KSM token being compatible with Polkadot, all projects developed and built on Kusama are also compatible, with many of them planning to deploy on Polkadot when ready.  

9. Where to Store Kusama $KSM?

Kusama’s $KSM token resides on top of the Kusama public blockchain rather than on the Ethereum public blockchain. That said, $KSM is not currently supported by most of the widely known cryptocurrency wallets that support ERC-20 tokens. 

$KSM crypto wallets must support the Kusama blockchain codebase and infrastructure which is different from Ethereum and Bitcoin’s blockchain infrastructure. 

That said, there aren’t as many crypto wallets supporting $KSM just yet, but as Polkadot and Kusama grow in popularity, you can expect to see many more wallets offering their support.

Popular Kusama (KSM) Wallets:

  • Trust Wallet - (mobile)
  • imToken - (mobile)
  • Math Wallet - (mobile/desktop/web/hardware)
  • Ledger Nano S - (hardware)
  • SafePal - (hardware)

10. Where to Buy & Sell Kusama $KSM?

Kusama (KSM) can be bought and sold on a peer-to-peer (P2P) basis but the most popular way to buy, sell, or trade KSM is through centralized cryptocurrency exchanges.

You can buy KSM with cryptocurrency or fiat currency at the following top exchanges. In most cases, you will be able to buy KSM with BTC, ETH, or stablecoins.

  • Binance - BTC, USDT, BNB, BUSD
  • Huobi Global - BTC, USDT, HT
  • Bitfinex - USD, USDT
  • Bittrex - BTC, ETH, USDT

In addition to the exchanges listed above, Kusama (KSM) is also traded on a wide variety of other exchanges and platforms that enable people to buy, sell, or trade cryptocurrencies.

Hope you enjoyed that read :) Let me know if I have missed something in the comments.


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