What is a Parachain?

A parachain is a parallel chain in a blockchain network that is capable of processing transactions and hosting decentralized applications (dapps) independently. Parachains are connected to the main chain, known as the relay chain, which acts as a central hub for interchain communication and coordination.

Parachains are designed to improve the scalability and efficiency of blockchain networks by allowing multiple chains to run simultaneously, each with its own unique set of transactions and dapps. This allows for a more decentralized and distributed network, as the load on the main chain is reduced, and transactions can be processed more quickly.

One of the key benefits of parachains is that they allow for a higher degree of customization and specialization compared to a single chain network. Each parachain can have its own set of rules, governance structure, and economic incentives, which can be tailored to specific use cases and communities.

Parachains are also designed to be interoperable with other chains, which means that they can exchange information and assets with other chains in the network. This can lead to new opportunities for cross-chain communication and collaboration between different parachains and dapps.

The integration of parachains into a blockchain network can be accomplished through a process known as "parachain auction". In this process, interested parties can bid for the right to operate a parachain, and the winning bid is awarded the rights to operate the parachain for a set period of time.

Simplified Example

A parachain can be compared to a tree with branches. Just like how a tree has many branches that all come together to make up the tree, a parachain has many different parts that all work together to make up a larger system.

Each branch on the tree can have different things growing on it, like leaves, flowers, or fruits. In the same way, each parachain can have different tasks or functions, like processing transactions, storing data, or managing digital assets.

The branches on the tree are all connected to the trunk of the tree, just like how the parachains are all connected to the main blockchain. The trunk of the tree is like the main highway that helps everything get from one place to another. The main blockchain is like the trunk in this analogy, helping all the parachains work together and communicate with each other.

So, in short, a parachain is like a branch on a tree that has its own specific tasks and functions, but is still connected to the main trunk and works together with the rest of the branches to make up the whole tree.

History of the Term "Parachain"

Before the coinage of the term "parachain," comparable concepts were denoted as sidechains. However, sidechains had inherent limitations, including the requirement for a distinct consensus mechanism and the incapacity to communicate with other sidechains. The introduction of the term "parachain" can be attributed to a blog post by Gavin Wood, where he presented it as an innovative approach to overcome these limitations and achieve scalability. Wood characterized parachains as "parallel chains" that would operate alongside the primary Polkadot chain, also known as the relay chain, fostering communication and interaction among themselves. Subsequently, "parachain" has gained widespread adoption within the Polkadot ecosystem and the broader blockchain community. In the context of the Polkadot network, parachains serve as a pivotal element, empowering developers to construct custom blockchains with specific functionalities that seamlessly connect to the main Polkadot chain. Beyond Polkadot, the term has found application in other blockchain projects, such as Cosmos and Avalanche, which have embraced similar concepts.


Polkadot Parachain: Polkadot is a blockchain platform that allows for interoperability between different blockchains. The Polkadot Parachain is a sub-chain within the Polkadot network that can be used for specific purposes, such as providing privacy or security. This Parachain operates independently and has its own consensus mechanism, making it a unique entity within the larger Polkadot network. The Polkadot Parachain can be used by businesses and organizations to develop their own blockchain applications and solutions.

Kusama Parachain: Kusama is a blockchain platform that is focused on innovation and experimentation. The Kusama Parachain is a sub-chain within the Kusama network that allows developers to test new ideas and concepts. This Parachain operates as a sandbox environment where developers can create new blockchain solutions without any real-world consequences. The Kusama Parachain provides a safe and secure environment for experimentation and innovation, making it a valuable tool for businesses and organizations that are looking to explore the potential of blockchain technology.

Substrate Parachain: Substrate is a blockchain platform that is designed for custom blockchain development. The Substrate Parachain is a sub-chain within the Substrate network that provides a flexible and customizable environment for developers. This Parachain allows businesses and organizations to create their own blockchain solutions that are tailored to their specific needs. The Substrate Parachain is built using the Substrate framework, which makes it easy to create and deploy new blockchain solutions quickly and easily.

  • Blockchain: A decentralized, digital ledger that records transactions across a network of computers.

  • Network: They have revolutionized the way we think about data security, by enabling a secure and distributed infrastructure for transactions.