Microsoft (MSFT ) has unveiled Project Bletchley, which will make it easier for companies to do business with each other using blockchain technology. Blockchain technology works by utilizing many computers, called nodes, which process blockchain transactions openly and simultaneously. All computers in the blockchain network have a copy of all the transactions that occur. This allows digital transactions to occur without the need for third party intermediaries or for things like escrow accounts. Blockchain technology was first developed by the controversial digital currency Bitcoin, but now is utilized being utilized by companies large and small across industries. Some analyst think that the changes and opportunities that could result from widespread implementation of block chain technology could be as significant those which happened because of the invention of the internet.
The move to adopt blockchain technology is part of Microsoft's continuing push into cloud computing. Project Bletchley will provide blockchain services through Microsoft Azure, the software giant's cloud computing and infrastructure platform. By being at the cutting edge of this changing technology, Microsoft profits will likely increase, especially if its Azure platform proves to be able to provide value to customers.
Microsoft is not the only big company using blockchain technology. Last year IBM (IBM ) partnered with Samsung to test blockchain technology's effect on the internet of things: internet-connected devices in the home. In the paper, they explain by using block chain technology, "a humble washer can become a semi-autonomous device capable of managing its own consumables supply, performing self-service and maintenance, and even negotiating with other peer devices both in the home and outside to optimize its environment." For example, a washer could order detergent itself when it ran out, and then execute the purchase via a blockchain network, without the need for any intermediary retailer. This paper noted though that challenged remain with blockchain technology and it remains unclear what future changes and challenge will come.
Perhaps the industry for which blockchain technology has the biggest implications is financial services and banking-the technology both represents a powerful tool for these companies to leverage and a threat to the industry's very survival. Much of the banking world profits by acting as an intermediary for a transaction between two separate parties. Blockchain technology represents a possibility of a future without the need for wire services, escrow accounts, and even credit cards as transactions can be made securely without the need for mutual trust between the two parties.
Banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM ) is investing heavily in blockchain technology. According to business insider the company is poised to invest nine billion in blockchain technology and robotics this year alone. JPMorgan has also partnered with startup R3 which is working which is attempting to work with banks and financial services companies to establish industry wide standards for blockchain technology which would allow them to be more quickly introduced.
Blockchain technology has profound potential to increase efficiency and growth in the economy as it allows for transactions to occur more smoothly and with lower cost between companies. Investors should be looking towards the companies that can best utilize and leverage this new technology.