This is blockchain unbounded.

Parachains are advanced, next-generation layer-1 blockchains that transcend the limitations of legacy networks. Specialized and interconnected, parachains make up a diverse ecosystem of independent platforms, communities, and economies improving the way we connect online.

Parachains = Possibilities

While other blockchain protocols only allow developers to build dapps using smart contracts, Polkadot gives them full control over the underlying blockchain itself. This flexibility gives parachain developers the maximum freedom to optimize for any use case—which means better and more secure dapps and services for all.

Legacy blockchains
1-size-fits-none

A single, limiting design for the entire network. No ability to optimize for specific use cases, so compromises and tradeoffs must be made.

Parachains
Specialized

Parachains are specialized for a multitude of use cases, enabling more optimized services and thriving, multifaceted economies.

Legacy blockchains
Isolated

Most blockchains are like walled gardens, cut off from each other and unable to communicate, prohibiting the free flow of data and commerce.

Parachains
Interconnected

Parachains are a rich, interconnected ecosystem where data flows freely between chains, leading to innovative new interoperable services.

Legacy blockchains
Limited scalability

Transactions are processed one-by-one, leading to bottlenecks, network congestion and high fees when dapp usage spikes.

Parachains
Scalable

Parachains process transactions “in parallel”, spreading them across the entire multichain network for maximum scalability.

Legacy blockchains
Difficult to upgrade

Like all software, blockchains need periodic upgrades to stay relevant. Upgrading most blockchains is painstaking, making them slow to evolve and respond as new technology becomes available.

Parachains
Seamless on-chain upgrades

Polkadot makes upgrading a blockchain more like upgrading a conventional app, with the ability to make most updates seamlessly and automatically in the background.

Legacy blockchains
No financial agency

Legacy blockchains are dependent on centralized organizations to finance activities that benefit the network, and communities as a whole have no financial agency.

Parachains
On-chain treasuries

Parachains can leverage on-chain treasuries, giving decentralized communities the financial agency once limited to corporations and governments.

Legacy blockchains
No clear decision making

Most blockchains have no formal governance procedures. Individual stakeholders are often powerless to propose changes, with decisions made by opaque groups of insiders.

Parachains
Built-in, customizable governance

Parachains can leverage Polkadot’s built-in, transparent governance features or create their own to implement the system that’s best for their community.

Legacy blockchains
Difficult and costly to secure

Securing blockchains requires a massive amount of resources, creating a significant barrier to entry for new chains and leading to competition for scarce resources between chains.

Parachains
Built-in security

Parachains get robust security automatically when they connect to Polkadot—no need to bootstrap their own network of miners or validators.

Legacy blockchains
Difficult and costly to build and maintain

Building a conventional blockchain typically takes years of hard work and large teams of experts. Maintenance is costly and time consuming.

Parachains
Streamlined development with Substrate

Parachains can use the Substrate blockchain framework to drastically simplify and speed up development and maintenance.

Legacy blockchains
High, unpredictable transaction fees

Fees on blockchains are often unpredictable, fluctuating based on short-term network usage and congestion.

Parachains
Low, transparent fees

Transaction fees are known in advance and fee structures can be customized by parachain teams. Users can pay fees in the parachain’s native token.

Legacy blockchains
Limited transaction types

Blockchains and smart contracts are typically limited to a few basic transaction types, like sending funds or triggering a contract. Transactions between chains are limited and often mediated by centralized services.

Parachains
Any type of data

Polkadot allows any type of data to be sent across dapps and parachains, creating an interoperable internet of blockchains and opening the door to a host of innovative new services.

A parachain for every purpose.

Parachains can be built for any blockchain use case, from DeFi to identity and supply chain, gaming and NFTs, IoT, DAOs, and much more. They can also take on various forms depending on their intended function, including:

Independent token economies

Parachains with their own tokens, fee structures, and economic ecosystems.

Common good parachains

After the lease, the full amount of DOT is unlocked, meaning auctions do not require teams to “spend” DOT. The cost of the lease is best characterized as the opportunity cost of not being able to use the bonded DOT for other activities.

Bridge parachains

Bridges allow Polkadot parachains to connect to external networks like Kusama, Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Parachain hubs

Parachains that provide a range of functionality to serve a broader community or use case, for example DeFi hubs and governance hubs.

Smart contract parachains

Platforms for building and hosting smart contract based dapps and services, with support for Wasm-VM and/or EVM.

Parathreads

Pay-as-you-go parachains for early stage networks and those that don’t need continuous connectivity to Polkadot.

Parachains as autonomous agents

Parachains can act autonomously based on the will of their communities to participate in Polkadot governance and allocate on-chain treasuries. This opens the door to new decentralized funding models, from project funding to decentralized sovereign wealth funds and even cross-chain mergers and acquisitions.

Parachains as digital nation states

With their own communities, rules, economies, governance, treasuries, and relationships with external chains, parachains are akin to decentralized digital nations. Polkadot allows them to come together, communicate and share security guarantees for the betterment of the entire ecosystem. A free alliance of sovereign chains.

Auctions & Crowdloans

Parachains connect to Polkadot by leasing an open slot on the Relay Chain via auction, which involves locking up a bond of DOT for the duration of the lease. DOT holders can help their favorite parachains win an auction, potentially earning a reward in return, by contributing to a crowdloan and temporarily locking their own DOT for the parachain’s bond.