Microsoft and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to Transform Trade Finance With Azure Blockchain as a Service

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Today at Sibos, an annual conference organized by SWIFT for the financial industry, Microsoft Corp. and Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced a collaboration on Blockchain technology to fuel transformation of trade finance transacting.

bank_of_america_merrill_lynch_rgb_300As part of this collaboration, the two companies will build and test technology, create frameworks, and establish best practices for Blockchain-powered exchanges between businesses and their customers and banks. Microsoft Treasury experts will serve as advisors and initial test clients, establishing the first Microsoft Azure-powered Blockchain transaction 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, underlying trade finance processes are highly manual, time-consuming and costly. With Blockchain, processes can be digitized and automated, transaction settlement times shortened, and business logic applied to related data, creating a host of potential benefits for businesses and financial institutions including more predictable working capital, reduced counterparty risk, improved operational efficiency, and enhanced audit transparency, among other benefits.

“The potential benefits of Blockchain will help drive meaningful supply-chain efficiencies to the clients of both Microsoft and the bank. This project is another example of our continued commitment to introduce financial innovations for the betterment of global commerce,” said Ather Williams, head of Global Transaction Services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“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 Azure Blockchain as a Service was first introduced in November 2015. The global scale, hybrid cloud capabilities, extensive compliance certification portfolio, and enterprise-proven security of Azure provide businesses with confidence and choice, especially in highly regulated industries such as financial services, healthcare and government. More than 80 percent of the world’s largest banks are Azure customers. Furthermore, more than 75 percent of the global systemically important financial institutions are using Azure, representing the highest bar for legal, compliance, security and acquisitions teams.

Development and testing of the initial application, built to optimize the standby letter of credit process, is currently in progress. The Microsoft and Bank of America Merrill Lynch teams will demonstrate the technology at Sibos in Geneva, Switzerland. Following the initial development and testing, the teams will work to refine the technology and evaluate applications to include more complex use cases and additional financial instruments.

More information on Microsoft Azure Blockchain as a Service can be found at www.microsoft.com/Blockchain.

About Richard Kastelein

Founder, Publisher and Editor in Chief of industry leading online publication, Blockchain News and co-founder and director at Blockchain Partners in London/Amsterdam/NYC. Kastelein is also an advisor with a number Blockchain startups doing ICOs including Humaniq.co where hs is interim CMO, DECENT.ch, Inchain, Chronobank, eGaas and others. He is regarded as one of the top journalists by the Blockchain and fintech communities – as is evident by his entry in the Top 150 Fintech journalists online and in the top 10 of the Blockchain Top 100 List.

As a prominent keynote presenter, he has spoken on Blockchain at events in Gdansk, Amsterdam, Minsk, Dubai, Antwerp, Eindhoven, Bucharest, Nairobi, Tel Aviv, Manchester, Brussels, Barcelona etc, where he helped spread the cause for Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency and, consequently, has built a notable network in the scene.

He’s also a director of a Dutch foundation called The Hackitarians and has run innovation events in London, San Francisco, Berlin, Amsterdam and other cities around the world on topics such Blockchain, Health, Energy, Internet of Things, AI etc.

In 2013, the European Commission appointed him as an expert for overseeing financing for emerging startups as a part of the European Commission’s 90 billion euro Horizon 2020 project, created in Brussels to promote innovation as a driving force of job creation and business ventures across Europe. He has also worked as an external expert for Innovate UK since 2012, judging startups for the UK government.

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