'Expect Chaos': Polkadot to Launch Experimental Kusama Network This Summer

Polkadot will be launching an experimental "canary network" called Kusama for early application testing and development.

AccessTimeIconJul 16, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:11 a.m. UTC
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An experimental version of blockchain interoperability protocol Polkadot will go live later this summer.

Led by Swiss nonprofit Web3 Foundation, the Polkadot team says the "early, unaudited and unrefined release of Polkadot" will be called Kusama.

"Kusama will serve as a proving ground, allowing teams and developers to build and deploy a parachain or try out Polkadot's governance, staking and validation functionality in a real environment," Gavin Wood, the ethereum co-founder and creator of Polkadot, said in a blog post.

The highly anticipated project was reported last month to have closed a private sale of half a million DOT tokens (5 percent of the total supply) for an implied valuation of $1.2 billion.

Wood stresses that the Kusama network is meant to cater to "new, early, high-risk functionality" projects that are already building products for Polkadot. The network's mainnet launch is tentatively slated for later this year.

Starting tomorrow, DOT holders can claim an equal amount of Kusama coins (KSM) and begin experimenting on the network no later than August.

For users who hold no DOT tokens, Wood explained in his blog post that the Web3 Foundation would fund “a frictional faucet” of KSM for additional experimentation on Kusama.

The exact amount of KSM tokens to be distributed was not disclosed, however, a spokesperson later detailed to CoinDesk that the Web3 Foundation has at its disposal a total of 3 million DOTs (30 percent of total token supply).

The blog post also detailed that 100,000 DOTs held by the Web3 Foundation would be used as “incentivisation to Kusama’s stakeholders and community.” A spokesperson later detailed this meant KSM holders will eventually be able to convert their tokens into DOTs at a fixed rate set by the Web3 Foundation.

This participation reward, according to the spokesperson, could be 1 DOT for every 100 KSM. However, the spokesperson stressed the mechanics of this reward scheme are still being worked out and have not been set by the team.

Speaking to the "canary" network's primary goals, Wood wrote:

"We are building bleeding-edge, experimental technology, which means there are no promises about what Kusama will do or how it will work – expect a lot of chaos (and a little fun)."

UPDATE (July 17, 15:15 UTC): This article has been updated with additional information from a Polkadot spokesperson.

Gavin Wood image via Twitter user @obnty


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