Microsoft has teamed up with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to develop distributed ledger technologies for trade finance transactions. The announcement was made on Tuesday during the Sibos conference in Geneva.
The new project is aimed at making financial transactions cheaper, faster and safer by using blockchain technology.
The two companies said they will create and test the blockchain-based framework for exchanges between businesses, their clients and banks. They plan to use Microsoft blockchain-as-a-service based on the Azure platform to enable distributed ledger transactions between a major corporate treasury and a financial institution.
“By working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch on cloud-based blockchain technology, we aim to increase efficiency and reduce risk in our own treasury operations,” said Amy Hood, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Microsoft. “Businesses across the globe — including Microsoft — are undergoing digital transformation to grow, compete and be more agile, and we see significant potential for blockchain to drive this transformation.”
Currently, trade finance processes require much time, money and manual work. With the blockchain technology, companies will be able to automate these processes, significantly reduce settlement time, eliminate counterparty risk, and increase audit transparency.
“The potential benefits of blockchain will help drive meaningful supply-chain efficiencies to the clients of both Microsoft and the bank,” said Ather Williams, head of Global Transaction Services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “This project is another example of our continued commitment to introduce financial innovations for the betterment of global commerce.”
“We are excited to be working with Microsoft on this groundbreaking blockchain proof of concept that has the potential to help redefine, digitize and improve how trade finance instruments are executed today,” said Percy Batliwalla, head of Global Trade and Supply Chain Finance at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Microsoft Blockchain as a Service, powered by Azure, was first unveiled in November 2015 and is currently used by over 80% of the globe’s biggest banks. Earlier this year, the company added 5 new partners – Augur, Lisk, BitShares, Svscoin and Slock.it – to its Azure Blockchain as a Service solution. In April, Rolls Royce announced it will integrate Microsoft Azure platform into its service solutions.
After the launch of the platform in 2015, the company has been working on designing technologies that would bring the distributed ledger technology to enterprises and government. A few days ago, Microsoft blockchain lead, Marley Gray, revealed a new version of its Project Bletchley that was first introduced in June this year. Powered by Azure, the project serves as a cloud platform for building blockchain applications.