Kusama and Polkadot are independent, standalone networks built on similar codebases but with different priorities. Kusama is wild and fast; great for bold experimentation and early-stage deployment. Polkadot is more conservative, prioritizing stability and dependability.


What the two networks have in common

Kusama was released as an early version of the same code to be used in Polkadot, which means they share the same underlying architecture.

Both Polkadot and Kusama have:

  • Nominated Proof of Stake (NPoS) system;
  • Parachains connected to the Relay chain;
  • Parachains talking to each other and to the Relay chain via XCM;
  • Forkless upgrades that don't require validators to upgrade in advance;
  • On-chain governance that gives every DOT or KSM owner a say in how the network will change.

Key differences

High securityLow barriers to entry for parachain deployment
High stabilityLow bond requirements for validators and parachains
More conservative governance and upgradeLatest technology
High validator rewardsLow slashing penalties

Fast iteration
Existential deposit: 1 DOTExistential deposit: 0.000333333 KSM
Minimum stake: 250 DOTMinimum stake: 0.1 KSM
Unbonding and slash defer: 28 daysUnbonding and slash defer: 7 days
Fast-unstaking: Deposit 1 DOTFast-unstaking: Deposit 0.33333 KSM
Era: 24 hours, Epoch: 4 hoursEra: 6 hours, Epoch: 1 hour
Minimum crowdloan contribution: 5 DOTDeprecated in favor of Agile Coretime
Parachain slot lease: up to 96 weeks
Deposit base: 20.008 DOT
Additional deposit per proxy: 0.033 DOT
Deposit base: 0.666933 KSM
Additional deposit per proxy: 0.001099 KSM 
Deposit base: 20.258 DOT
Per encoded byte of information: 0.001 DOT
On the People parachain:
Deposit base: 0.006672333321 KSM
Per encoded byte of information: 0.000000333333 KSM
Deposit per sub-account: 20.053 DOTDeposit per sub-account: 0.066667 KSM
Deposit base: 20.088 DOT
Additional deposit per signatory: 0.032 DOT
Deposit base: 0.669600 KSM
Additional deposit per signatory: 0.0010607 KSM
Deposit to create proposal: From 1 DOT 
Deposit to create proposal: From 0.033333 KSM
Periods depending on the track:
Decision, 7 - 28 days
Confirm, 10 minutes - 2 days
Min. enactment, 10 minutes - 1 day
Periods depending on the track:
Decision, 7 - 14 days
Confirm, 10 minutes - 1 day
Min. enactment, 10 minutes - 1 day

Use cases

Kusama is the "canary network" for Polkadot. It is not a testnet and has an economic value. All new things come to Kusama first to be tried in a live, fully decentralized, and community-controlled network with real-world conditions and lower stakes.

Kusama may be the perfect environment for ambitious experiments with new ideas and innovations in areas like governance, incentives, monetary policy, and DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations). Future upgrades to the Polkadot runtime will likely be deployed to Kusama before Polkadot. This way, not only will we be able to see how these new technologies and features will perform under real-world conditions, but teams who have deployed to both networks will also get an advanced look at how their own technology will perform under those upgrades.

Polkadot is and always will be the primary network for deploying enterprise-level applications and those that entail high-value transactions requiring bank-level security, stability, and robustness. It can also be an upgrade path for early-stage applications.

Many projects will maintain parachains on both networks, experimenting and testing new technologies and features on Kusama before deploying them to Polkadot. Some teams will decide just to stay on Kusama. Projects that require high-throughput but don't necessarily require bank-like security, such as some gaming, social networking, and content distribution applications, are particularly good candidates for this use case.

What's next?

Over time, Polkadot and Kusama networks will evolve independently. Their respective communities will decide whether the networks will be converging or diverging. Governance on both Polkadot and Kusama is decentralized and permissionless, and everyone who owns the native token (DOT for Polkadot and KSM for Kusama) has a say in how the network is run.