Blockchain banking gets a boost from Azure

British payments services firm Caxton will use Microsoft’s cloud platform to offer faster, cheaper and more secure banking via blockchain technology.

The private blockchain system will run on Azure and give users direct access to preferential banking rates, while cutting their service costs.

The move will be particularly beneficial for e-commerce businesses looking to make payments in multiple currencies, app developers who need a regulated partner to handle transactions or banks that needs a simple, multicurrency platform.

How does Blockchain work? (credit: PwC)
How does Blockchain work? (credit: PwC)

Russell Stather, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Caxton, said: “This offer will be particularly exciting for our client’s CTOs. This technology strips out the need for an API [application-programming interface], meaning everything is under their control. There’s no need for them to waste time and money, installing and maintaining an API.”

Blockchain is a database that can be added to but not modified, making it very secure; while each entry, or block, is linked to the previous one, so they are also quick and easy to use. It is historically known as a core part of the digital currency bitcoin but can be used for any transaction, so has the potential to revolutionise e-commerce.

Caxton’s solution comes just weeks after Microsoft spelled out its vision for the future of blockchain at an event in London. The company told the Blockchain Expo that the cloud is the best way to use the technology and it is working on an ecosystem to support it, codenamed Project Bletchley. The platform aims to provide openness, privacy, security, scale, flexibility and members-only blockchains.

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Project Bletchley is “blockchain 3.0 while most people are in blockchain 2.0”, Microsoft Cloud Architect Thomas Conte said at the conference. He pointed to Microsoft’s use of “cryptlets” – secure software that interacts with the blockchain – its development of a trusted marketplace for smart contracts – which no one can alter after deployment – and Azure Key Vault – which allows people to encrypt passwords.

Microsoft was a key partner for the Blockchain Expo, which featured more than 60 industry figures and more than 20 sessions on the technology.