Polkadot and Kusama Ecosystem

Introduction on Polkadot, Acala, Kusama and Karura


Polkadot is a multichain network, what we would call a Layer 0 (Solana is a Layer 1), and its relay chain was built with Substrate, a blockchain framework. This means that any chain built with Substrate is compatible with Polkadot.

The relay chain is responsible for the network’s security, consensus and interoperability between parachains.

Parachains are blockchains with specific use cases that connect to Polkadot, with interactions/transactions happening independently and concurrently.

What is Kusama?

Kusama is an independent network to Polkadot, but they share a ton of code (i.e. it is also a relay chain). This is because Kusama takes a lot of early versions of code from Polkadot, has faster upgrades due to shorter referendums for on chain governance: proposals, upgrades, etc, allowing it to evolve faster.

Essentially Kusama can be viewed as a ‘canary network’, where it sits between a testnet and Polkadot, allowing full deployment into a community run blockchain used in the real world, before deploying into Polkadot. As Polkadot upgrades frequently come to Kusama first, maintaining projects on both chains means teams can test how they perform post upgrade.

Currently, however, no bridge exists between Kusama and Polkadot, but this has not been ruled out in the future by the Polkadot foundation.

What is Karura and Acala?

Karura is a parachain on Kusama (fun fact: it won the first parachain slot auction there), marketing itself as the DeFi hub. It provides staking, multicollaterized stablecoin in $aUSD (previously $kUSD) and liquidity pools for swapping (AMM DEX).

What Karura is to Kusama, Acala is to Polkadot. Currently no direct bridge exists between Polkadot/Kusama and Acala/Karura, but they both share the stablecoin $aUSD.

Binding your MetaMask wallet with Polkadot.js wallet

Swim only supports the MetaMask wallet for Karura and Acala - in order to use these networks you must bind your Substrate wallet with MetaMask.

Please go here to bind your wallets. Please note you will need some $KAR in your wallet to pay for gas in order to proceed with the binding.

If you need a guide on how to bind, the official Karura guide is here.

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