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Empowering the financial services blockchain revolution

Today in New Orleans, we’re kicking off Microsoft Envision, a new event that brings together thousands of business leaders from nearly every industry to share insights and uncover solutions for success in the digital age.

Digital transformation is lighting up across industries in every region of the world. It brings with it new challenges and new opportunities, opens up new markets and new customers, and demands a fundamentally new approach to thrive in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

One undeniable force in this transformation is the emerging use of blockchain technology in the enterprise. Known by many as the backbone of bitcoin, blockchain offers a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets. Simply put, it promises to revolutionize the way financial institutions conduct transactions. Blockchain modernizes legacy financial processes, so trades of assets like stocks and bonds can be finalized in minutes, not days. And by enabling a more direct transfer of ownership, it eliminates the need for middlemen like clearing houses, both cutting costs and greatly reducing the risk of fraud.

With that in mind, I’m thrilled to announce a strategic partnership with R3, a consortium of leading banking institutions, to help move blockchain technology from hype to reality for the financial services industry. Together, we will help R3’s over 40 member banks develop, test and deploy blockchain technologies to modernize decades-old processes and streamline operations, potentially saving billions of dollars from back-office operations.

Bringing together resources from across the company, this partnership empowers R3’s members with intelligent technology for faster experimentation, technical agility and accelerated learning. Member banks will use our cloud platform, Microsoft Azure, and have access to our expanding network of more than 45 partner Blockchain-as-a-Service solution providers for development and testing.

Coupled with dedicated services and technical support for R3’s blockchain labs, this partnership creates a powerful, flexible ecosystem for member banks to develop and ultimately deploy real-world blockchain solutions. R3’s members will also benefit from Microsoft’s enterprise-grade cloud security and privacy protections, in addition to the largest cloud compliance and certification portfolio in the industry, an absolute necessity for the financial services industry.

Navigating the changing digital landscape can be daunting. Success demands a trusted and collaborative network of partners – particularly in a highly regulated industry with billions of dollars and sensitive financial data at play. We’re proud that organizations like R3 trust Microsoft as a partner to build the financial technology systems of the future. With next–generation technologies like blockchain poised to disrupt the way we do business in nearly every industry, we’re committed to continue earning the trust of business leaders and their customers around the world.

Change is never easy, but with partnerships built on trust, together we can change the idea of “disruption” from a threat to an opportunity – one that will empower us all to achieve more.