Microsoft looks set to to gain a foothold in the global financial market through a formalised partnership with the R3 consortium of banks to develop open source blockchain ledger applications, the company said today.
Blockchain emerged from the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin, and provides a transparent, distributed ledger to record financial and other transactions, including asset management, contracts and settlements.
Financial institutions are interested in blockchain as it is cheaper to operate than clearing houses and similar third-parties currently required to verify transactions. The technology is also more secure and substantially faster than legacy financial processes.
The partnership means the R3 partner banks will use the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to build blockchain-as-a-service applications.
The R3 consortium now has 45 member banks, the company said. Among these are the National Australia Bank (NAB), which joined the project in October last year; Macquarie Bank; Commonwealth Bank; and Westpac.
Globally, other R3 member banks include Nordea, JP Morgan, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Mizuho Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley.