Two traditional business giants are joining forces in the name of blockchain. According to a press release, Microsoft and JP Morgan Chase have “signed a memorandum of understanding to form a strategic partnership to accelerate the adoption of enterprise blockchain.” The deal will see Microsoft support JP Morgan’s Quorum distributed ledger platform through their cloud-based Azure Blockchain Service.
While the conversation around blockchain in some industries can seem like an exercise in marketing speak, finance has worked to activate its potential to privately and securely transmit sensitive information and continues to develop exciting uses for the technology. Quorum is an especially successful example, offering an “enterprise-focused version of Ethereum” that facilitates high speed, secure transactions “within a permissioned group of known participants” for the financial industry. Quorum’s success over the past four years means it has even drawn interest from outside of the financial sector, prompting discussions of turning Quorum into an entity independent of JP Morgan.
The partnership offers tremendous growth potential for both parties, provided they can leverage the scalability advantages offered by the cloud and the privacy of blockchain. Mutually beneficial improvements seem likely: Azure will provide the necessary infrastructure for Quorum, allowing customers “to rapidly grow their networks while benefitting from lower costs, simplified deployment, and built-in governance.” Microsoft and JP Morgan will collaborate to address cloud-based blockchain needs for their customers, with Microsoft also “[providing] engineering, consulting and go-to-market support for Quorum.”
The deal may also be a boon for developers. Quorum customers can use the substantial infrastructure provided by the Azure platform to focus their attention on building applications and improving blockchain networks. Quorum will also “continue to power J.P. Morgan and Microsoft blockchain programs and first-party apps, such as the Interbank Information Network, [in-house digital token] JPM Coin and Microsoft’s Xbox royalty payment process, among others.”
A Quorum and Azure partnership done well can help point the way for future enterprise blockchain initiatives. Peggy Johnson, the executive vice president of Business Development at Microsoft, described the deal as a positive development in the “digital transformation” of business as a whole – an opportunity for Microsoft to “accelerate innovation for [their] customers” while “[driving] imaginative new business models and [reinventing] industries.”
Johnson’s quote may scan as press release jargon, but blockchain’s shared ledger continues to have a cross-business impact. Increased efficiency and security are not limited to the financial sector. A positive partnership between Quorum and Azure would be a testament to blockchain’s efficacy – and a platform for growth.
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