Microsoft has announced a strategic partnership with Brooklyn-based startup ConsenSys amid its launch of a cloud-based blockchain platform on Tuesday, to assist financial institutions and banks to experiment with bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain.
The Seattle-based company will offer Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) on Microsoft Azure to enable Enterprise and institutional clients to build Ethereum blockchain and Smart Contract-based applications with pre-built tools and templates.
The platform will be available to banks and insurance companies already registered to Microsoft’s cloud-based Azure platform. Within days of its launch, four large global financial institutions had already signed up for the service.
Ethereum Blockchain as a Service provided by Microsoft Azure and ConsenSys will allow clients “to play, learn, and fail fast at a low cost in a ready-made dev/test/production environment,” explains Microsoft Technology Strategy Director Marley Gray.
“It will allow them to create private, public and consortium based Blockchain environments using industry leading frameworks very quickly, distributing their Blockchain products with Azure’s World Wide distributed (private) platform,” he added.
Since the beginning of 2015, an increasing number of banks have announced their involvement with the blockchain technology, and plans to create financial applications that could potentially transform traditional banking systems and existing financial platforms.
Based on the rapidly growing interest of banks and financial institutions in the blockchain technology, 20 industry leaders in the bitcoin market predict over US$1 billion to be invested in the technology over the next 24 months.
Despite the increasing popularity of the blockchain technology, Gray explains that many banks and financial institutions are afraid to adopt the underlying technology of bitcoin due to its costs and compatibility issues with their existing services.
Microsoft Azure aims to bridge this gap between conventional systems to new generation payment and settlement network to allow more banks worldwide to look into the blockchain technology.
“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.