Microsoft and professional services provider KPMG International announced today that the companies are partnering on the formation of Blockchain Nodes in select cities.
Blockchain Nodes are innovation centers intended to engage with local technology companies, developer communities and startups and help create new blockchain-based solutions. Initially, the centers will focus on blockchain applications for the financial services industry; however, plans call for exploring the technology's applicability in health care and public sector organizations before potentially tackling other verticals.
The first Blockchain Nodes will open their doors in Frankfurt, Germany, and Singapore, with a New York location to follow, where it will join a similar center from Deloitte.
Last month, Deloitte launched a Blockchain Lab in New York City's Financial District. Staffed by more than 20 blockchain developers and designers, the facility is focused on building proofs of concept and functioning prototypes for the firm's financial services customers. The New York location follows the first lab opened in Ireland in May 2016.
"The Blockchain Nodes will play a critical role in identifying new applications and use cases that blockchain can address," said Eamonn Maguire, KPMG's Digital Ledger Services global and U.S. lead, in a statement. "They will enable us to work directly with clients to discover and test ideas based on market insights, creating and implementing prototype solutions that use this innovative technology."
KPMG launched its Digital Ledger Services unit in September 2016 to help banks and other financial institutions adopt blockchain-based transaction and operational systems. Microsoft, meanwhile, will contribute its growing competency in delivering cloud-based blockchain solutions.
The Redmond, Wash., software and cloud computing giant has been steadily growing its "blockchain-as-a-service" ecosystem since it was first announced in late 2015. Earlier this year, the company announced it is working with Teirion, a blockchain data integrity specialist, on a high-performance, decentralized identity service that produces verifiable attestations independent of trusted authorities. Attestations, in this context, describes identity-signed data that can be validated.
Last fall, Microsoft announced a blockchain pilot project in collaboration with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The joint solution is aimed at streamlining trade finance transactions by eliminating much of the manual work associated with collecting and verifying the information and certificates involved in finance deals between buyers and sellers.
Elsewhere in the burgeoning market for enterprise blockchain products, IBM launched a secure business-to-business blockchain service in July 2016. Powered by the IBM Cloud, it runs on the company's LinuxONE systems that feature firmware safeguards that block root and system administrator access from blockchain software, applications and data.
The Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Project is making moves to get blockchain out of Bitcoin's shadow. Brian Behlendorf, executive director of the Hyperledger Project and an Apache Software Foundation co-founder, recently told eWEEK's Sean Michael Kerner that his Fabric subproject is aimed at enabling blockchain-based transactions that are significantly faster than the Bitcoin model. Hyperledger's backers include Accenture, Cisco, IBM, Intel and VMware.