Yesterday Microsoft and JP Morgan said they’d signed a memorandum of understanding to partner in accelerating the adoption of enterprise blockchain. At the same time, Microsoft unveiled its latest blockchain offering the Azure Blockchain Service featuring JP Morgan’s Quorum as the first service.
The company already had the Azure Blockchain Workbench and was the first major cloud provider to embrace blockchain. The Azure Blockchain Service simplifies the formation, management and governance of a consortium network. It makes it easier to add new members, set permissions and authenticate user applications.
The latest service will go head to head with Amazon’s Managed Blockchain. Two days ago Amazon Web Services said its new offering was generally available on its US East coast servers.
JP Morgan’s Quorum is an enterprise version of Ethereum designed to be deployed as a permissioned network with additional privacy features.
“We are incredibly proud of the success Quorum has had over the last four years, as organizations around the world use Quorum to solve complex business and societal problems via blockchain solutions,” said Umar Farooq, Global Head of Blockchain, J.P. Morgan. “We are delighted to partner alongside Microsoft as we continue to strengthen Quorum and expand capabilities and services on the platform.”
JP Morgan is using Quorum in its Interbank Information Network and JPM Coin, and Microsoft is using it for its Xbox royalty payment process. But several others are using Quorum as well including VAKT the post-trade settlement solution for the oil trade as well as the trade finance consortium komgo.
But last year after the first head of Quorum Amber Baldet left the company, there were questions about whether JP Morgan would retain the unit. Developing a technology protocol is a big leap from banking. Enterprise solutions also require strong support. Depending on how things progress with Microsoft, it’s conceivable that if the relationship works out, Microsoft could fulfil that role in providing support. Or, speculating, even offer Quorum a new home.
“As digital transformation extends beyond the walls of an individual organization, companies need solutions that enable them to securely share their business processes and data in order to drive imaginative new business models and reinvent industries. We’re thrilled to partner with a leader like J.P. Morgan to establish a foundation on which enterprises and partners can rapidly build and scale blockchain networks,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Business Development, Microsoft.