If you’re reading this, you probably know what a blockchain is. There are various types of blockchains, each designed in order to best perform a certain type of task or functionality. In most cases, they exist on their own, and don’t typically contain any inherent interoperability features.

A Parachain is a type of blockchain. More specifically, however, is that it’s a blockchain that has been built to plug into the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems. Parachains are built using Substrate, a framework built to make it easier and quicker to build a blockchain.

What’s also important to consider is that Parachains are built to specialize and optimize for specific activities. Acala, for instance, specializes in DeFi applications. Moonbeam was built to serve as an Ethereum-compatible environment on Polkadot.

Parachains can afford to optimize for specific activities and worry less about security features. This is because they are able to rely on the security inherent in Polkadot’s ‘Relay Chain’. This Relay Chain is responsible for the network’s shared security, consensus and cross-chain interoperability.

Each Parachain typically has its own native tokens and economies, and each Parachain can customize these as they see fit.

So just how does a blockchain become a Parachain?

The most common path to winning a Parachain slot is through the Parachain auction. As more Parachain slots become open, the projects that pledge the most DOT (the native token of Polkadot) at the conclusion of the auction are awarded a Parachain slot. This is the route that ICE and SNOW will take, and our teams are in the process of working on an incentive system for a crowdloan. This crowdloan incentive system will eventually reward DOT holders who pledge their tokens towards ICE and SNOW during the parachain auction.

No other parachain thus far has been an extension of an existing layer one protocol. As extension layers to the ICON blockchain, the ICE and SNOW parachains are optimized to facilitate interoperability between the ICON and Polkadot ecosystems, by bridging existing communities and a vibrant dApp ecosystem from day one. Through ICE and SNOW, Polkadot will be bridged not only to ICON, but also Binance Smart Chain, NEAR, Harmony, amongst others, through BTP–ICON’s interoperability protocol.

ICE and SNOW seek to be the first parachains to join the Polkadot ecosystem as extension layers of an existing protocol, ICON, and in doing so, showcase the value of bridging not only technology, but also entire communities.

Stay tuned for more information on how SNOW Network will soon be using the decentralized crowdloan functionality in order to bid for a parachain slot on Kusama

For more detailed information about parachains, be sure to visit Polkadot’s official documentation.