Microsoft Blockchain Strategy Seems to be Paying Off

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the release of Microsoft’s Coco Framework, the latest addition to the Redmond giant blockchain stack. In that article, I mentioned that Microsoft was, slowly and steadily, building one of the most comprehensive blockchain technology suites in the market. Initial signs show that strategy seems to be working and Microsoft recently publicized some of its high profile wins in the distributed ledger space.

The most fascinating thing is that Microsoft’s blockchain technology suite seems to be showing proficiency across incredibly diverse industries such as banking, retail or shipping insurance. Additionally, the initial set of case studies shows how much Microsoft’s blockchain success is not only a result of its technological capabilities but also about the incredibly robust partner ecosystem built around its blockchain products.

Blockchain for Shipping Insurance

Marine insurance is one of the oldest and most archaic types of insurance models in the market. Shipping cargo between two locations involves many building blocks and pieces that can go wrong at any time. From port logistics to pirates in African waters, the processes for putting together a comprehensive shipping instance policy is ridiculously complicated. If we are talking about auditing those policies, then the process becomes nothing short of a miracle.

Maersk knows a thing or two about marine insurance. The Danish shipping giant recently started looking at blockchain technologies to streamline the auditing processes in marine insurance policies. Maersk turned to Microsoft and some of its partners such as Ernst & Young and Guard Time to develop a 20-week proof-of-concept(POC) for simplifying the auditing processes in its marine insurance policies.

The core of the Maersk POC relies on Guard Time’s KSI Ledged platform. The solution uses the blockchain to log real time, trusted insurance data across the different parties involved in a shipping process. That model reduces the time for the different parties to agree on the terms of insurance policies. Microsoft’s role in the POC seems to be related to supplying the blockchain infrastructure to operate and scale the solution.

Digital Bank Guarantees via the Blockchain

Bank guarantees are embedded into many business transaction across different industries. For instance, in real state, bank guarantees are used to as a security in tenant leases. However, the processes for handling bank guarantees are paperwork-intensive and regularly plagued with errors.

Recently, Microsoft partnered with Israel’s Bank Hapoalim to build a system that manages its bank guarantees. The solution will allow Bank Hapoalim’s customers to receive documents in a secure manner powered by a blockchain. Microsoft’s blockchain as a service(BaaS) infrastructure is used as the main runtime for the solution.

What Makes Microsoft Win in the Blockchain?

When comes to blockchain enterprise solutions, Microsoft has a lot of going for it. Technologies such as Azure BaaS, Coco Framework, Azure Enterprise Smart Contracts or Project Bletchley bring together a very complete set of blockchain capabilities. Additionally, the integration with Azure services or mainstream platforms such as Office365 is a very strong plus for many customers. More importantly, since day one, Microsoft has put a tremendous level of effort building a strong partner ecosystem around its blockchain technologies. All those factors have allowed Microsoft to quickly raise next to IBM as the two most trusted brands when comes to blockchain enterprise implementations. The race between the two tech giants to dominate the enterprise blockchain space is only going to get more interesting in the near future.

CEO of IntoTheBlock, Chief Scientist at Invector Labs, I write The Sequence Newsletter, Guest lecturer at Columbia University, Angel Investor, Author, Speaker.