Global computer powerhouse Microsoft ended 2014 making news by accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment in the United States for digital products purchased through their website. On Tuesday, Microsoft doubled-down on Bitcoin and its technology by launching a new cloud-based blockchain platform for large financial institutions to use for experimentation with the new technology.
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In association with Brooklyn-based tech startup ConsensYs, this represents Microsoft’s second foray into the Bitcoin space and a major vote of confidence after last winter’s announcement. Multiple economic corporations have already signed off on joining this initiative, and it will be available to those who are already connected with Microsoft’s Azure platform, which is also cloud-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,” Microsoft’s director of tech strategy for financial services, Marley Gray, told Reuters at Ethereum’s “DevCon” conference in London.
ConsensYs is a production studio working out of Brooklyn, New York. They build decentralized applications and various developer and end-user tools for blockchain ecosystems, primarily, but not exclusively based on Ethereum.
The key benefit of this collaboration between Microsoft and ConsensYs is that financial firms won’t have to build blockchain models from scratch.
Users in finance or insurance can work with cloud-based tech and Microsoft’s templates to build “smart contracts” that meet contract terms in as little as 20 minutes. Privatized blockchains can also be made quickly and easily. Microsoft is already using Ethereum’s programmable blockchain to help with this launch
This announcement has been the first news out of Microsoft in regards to Bitcoin or its blockchain technology since they hosted a panel in New York last June, in association with MIT Media Lab. The focus of the 70-minute event was on harnessing the capabilities of blockchain technology for issues such as limiting the damage of identity theft, how to thwart fraud in voting systems, and how to use the ledger system to catalog real estate ownership.
2015 has been the “Year of the Blockchain” within the FinTech and financial industries, as the efficiencies and security offered by Bitcoin’s underlying technology have made quite an impression on the mainstream. Many of the world’s largest banks, from Santander, to UBS, to Barclays have already started internal experiments and development projects to test integration of blockchain technology into their operations in the future.
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