Microsoft says that four large global financial institutions have already signed up to the recently announced Ethereum-powered blockchain tool on its Azure platform.
The technology giant revealed the news, according to a Reuters report, at Devcon1, Ethereum’s developer conference currently ongoing in London during Nov. 9-13. Microsoft is one of the event’s sponsors and attendees.
Ethereum, one of the most anticipated Bitcoin 2.0 technologies- or Bitcoin 3.0 according to some accounts- officially launched three months ago. It is touted by its creators with the sentence: “What bitcoin does for payments, Ethereum does for anything that can be programmed.”
Microsoft joined forces with ConsensYs, a Brooklyn-based startup that is building tools based on Ethereum, to allow clients of its Azure service to experiment with new applications such as smart contracts. Banks and insurance companies are among the targeted clientele. The names of the four institutions that joined were not disclosed.
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‘Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS)’, as it is referred to on Azure’s blog, currently offers two tools: Ether.Camp, an integrated developer environment, and BlockApps, a private, semi-private Ethereum blockchain environment.
The idea is to give clients the opportunity to easily play around with blockchain-based applications without much investment- a “fail fast, fail cheap” model. Users even with no knowledge or experience with cryptocurrency would be able to build contracts, whose terms are automatically executed, in 20 minutes.
“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 Microsoft’s director of tech strategy for financial services, Marley Gray.
Azure is Microsoft’s cloud-based business service, which supports multiple programming languages and provides for the creation of custom applications on Microsoft’s infrastructure.
The company has been increasingly shifting focus to its cloud services amid slowing demand for its Windows operating system.