What is Polkadot?

Polkadot is a platform where developers can build a decentralised internet. Rather than building traditional websites, developers can create apps on Polkadot that store transactions and contracts on a publicly searchable blockchain. On Polkadot, all these apps are independent, free from any restrictions that would be put in place by middlemen like website hosts or broadband providers on the regular web.

Polkadot was founded by Dr. Gavin Wood, who also co-founded the original Ethereum project. Polkadot is one of a host of cryptocurrencies expanding on the work done by Ethereum to create a platform that can cope with the demand and speed that would be required to bring the technology into mainstream use. Cardano, also founded by a member of the original Ethereum team, Algorand, and Zilliqa are just a few of the platforms trying to achieve a similar goal.

The DOT token was first launched during an initial coin offering in 2017 and became tradeable on most exchanges in August 2020. Since its exchange listing, it has become one of the most popular coins on the market. The Polkadot team also released the Kusama network at the same time, where project developers can test applications before launching on the main system.

How does Polkadot work?

Polkadot works by splitting its blockchain into a series of smaller chains that can add transactions at the same time. By processing its transactions in this way, Polkadot solves one of the biggest weaknesses of the Ethereum blockchain: speed. With many chains operating at the same time, Polkadot can process up to 1000 transactions per second, well beyond the capacity of Ethereum.

Polkadot has also solved another problem, which is the fact there are hundreds of cryptocurrencies and platforms that work in isolation and can’t communicate. It introduces ‘bridges’, links between its platform and the outside world. With a bridge, someone could use Bitcoin to pay for transactions on the Polkadot platform, a huge step forward from early generation blockchain technology.

To build on Polkadot, developers will need to use DOT to ‘buy’ or ‘lease’ a slot to build on. Those slots are going to be limited and once tokens are spent on the slots, they’re locked in for the duration of the lease, reducing the amount of DOT on the open market. Anyone who holds DOT can also stake it to help validate these new builds and earn rewards for contributing.

Fact-checking & references

Our editors fact-check all content to ensure compliance with our strict editorial policy. The information in this article is supported by the following reliable sources.

Risk disclaimer

Invezz is a place where people can find reliable, unbiased information about finance, trading, and investing – but we do not offer financial advice and users should always carry out their own research. The assets covered on this website, including stocks, cryptocurrencies, and commodities can be highly volatile and new investors often lose money. Success in the financial markets is not guaranteed, and users should never invest more than they can afford to lose. You should consider your own personal circumstances and take the time to explore all your options before making any investment. Read our risk disclaimer >