Soon, banks and insurance companies that are now using the cloud-based Azure platform of Microsoft will be able to take advantage of a new cloud-based blockchain platform that the company launches.
Microsoft has partnered with start-up firm ConsenSys in a move to launch a fully programmable blockchain platform that will allow financial industries to use it as a huge, decentralized ledger of each transaction that uses bitcoin.
While the technology is still in a nascent phase, more financial industry is getting interested in blockchain, believing that it has the potential to reduce costs and enhance efficiency.
"Microsoft and ConsenSys are partnering to offer Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) on Microsoft Azure so Enterprise clients and developers can have a single click cloud based blockchain developer environment," said Marley Gray, Director at Technology Strategy US Financial Services. "Ethereum is real and has a vibrant community of developers, enthusiasts and businesses participating."
Although the main attraction of the tech is to use Bitcoin-style of currency, it is also a useful tool in securing and validating any data exchange being made. By using simple templates, companies would be able to create "smart contracts" that are blockchain-based.
"Working with our customers that wanted to start playing around with blockchain technology, the major pain point that we kept hearing from them was that it was just too hard to get started, and too expensive," said Gray. He added that "Ethereum provides the flexibility and extensibility many of our customers were looking for."
According to Gray, companies that intend to use the technology would be able to create "smart contracts" wherein the terms of such an agreement are automatically executed in 20 minutes even without any prior experience. Moreover, they can also update the value of a contract that uses an Ethereum-based currency every 15 seconds which, in essence, is faster than Bitcoin by as much as 40 times.
"We bet the entire farm on the cloud, pretty much," said Gray.
So far, there are now four large global financial institutions which had signed up to the service, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft seemed to be deviating more of its focus on cloud services as the company sees a slowdown in the demand for its Windows operating system. In a report made last month, the company said that its cloud business saw an eight percent increase for the first quarter.