5 Big Companies working on Blockchain

door Joost van der Plas



Most people think bitcoin and blockchain technology is merely the domain of obscure startups and geeks, but this is no longer the case. Some of the biggest and most well known companies in the world are joining in. This blog is an overview of the most interesting among them.

Microsoft

For sure one of the most remarkable recent blockchain moves comes from Microsoft. The technology giant announced a block chain development environment on its cloud platform Azure. Now Microsoft Enterprise Clients and developers can create, develop and test decentralized applications on the Ethereum Blockchain, giving its ecosystem a boost. The background of this move is Microsoft’s battle with Google and Amazon oncloud based development solutions. Currently Microsoft’s Azure is runner-up behind Amazon and mostly taking advantage of Microsoft’s dominant position in the business and enterprise software market. Microsoft is partnering with ConsenSys; a development company specialized on blockchain applications and development tools. As a start of the partnership, two blockchain related development tools are being offered and it’s likely more will be added in the future.

Goldman Sachs, Barclays...and 40 other huge banks

During the previous months, an impressive list of banks joined a consortium for research and development of blockchain technology in the financial industry. The consortium is an initiative of a start-up called R3CEV that wants to lead collaborations between its members (banks) on design, engineering, experimentation and research in blockchain projects. For now, R3 has organized several workshops and meetings between banks that ultimately should lead to proof-of-concept experiments. The initiative has gained a lot of skepticism from the bitcoin community. Called “the Banking Cartel” on several forums, the consortium is perceived as an attempt from the financial industry to keep control over the financial system. It is indeed an interesting question what we can expect from this group of stakeholders in the current financial system. We know blockchain and cryptocurrencies have the potential to fully disrupt financial industry, fundamentally changing the position of banks, stock exchanges and other institutions we know today. Fairly enough, we should not expect this disruptive intention from the R3 consortium. But the bundling of financial institutions around blockchain technology could improve the global financial system significantly. Imagine a global financial network that not only improves the transaction speed, security, transparency and cost-levels, but also being accessible for a massive number of unbanked people around the globe.  

Visa

With operations on all continents, Visa is one the largest global payment companies in the world. And, as many financial institutions, Visa also acknowledged the blockchain revolution and started working on its own blockchain concepts. What makes Visa a bit different than the rest is that it tends to look at public blockchains where a lot of similar financial institutions (like banks) are focusing to use private blockchains. The difference between these two is that a public blockchain is open to everybody and controlled by the community and a private blockchain is controlled and managed by one central institution. Recently Visa launched a proof-of-concept that uses the Bitcoin blockchain to settle international payments and send transactions across different payment systems. For example, a payment in dollars that is received in M-Pesa (Kenya mobile money) facilitated by the blockchain. Visa is convinced that its proven concept shows a real opportunity to improve remittance services in terms of fees, speed and ease of use. They are probably right, as long as people are using different currencies in different countries. But the blockchain holds the opportunity to change this and with people using cryptocurrencies across the world, there might be little remittance business left.

IBM & Samsung

In an earlier blog we already explained the potential of blockchain technology for the Internet of Things. For sure, technology giants IBM and Samsung are taking the lead on this topic together. Ultimately, IBM and Samsung envision networks of devices that are managing themselves.  To demonstrate this, they created a Samsung washing machine that uses blockchain technology to order detergent when needed independent of any human interaction. Besides ordering, the device has the ability to pay for the order and receive feedback from the retailer that the detergent has been paid for and shipped. It can even check if there is still guarantee on broken parts and act according to this information. Again, all without any human interaction. Having two giants experimenting like this will for sure accelerate the development of connected devices that can act autonomously in the economic system.

Overstock

This US based online retailer seems a bit odd on this list of big-well-known-corporate companies. But when it comes down to blockchain related work or impact on the blockchain ecosystem, Overstock has to be mentioned. In fact, its CEO Patrick Byrne has to be mentioned. Byrne has been a strong supporter of cryptocurrencies from the early days and with Overstock he started several blockchain related initiatives. In 2014 he announced a blockchain based stock exchange with a project called Medici and mid 2015 an exchange platform called T0.com was launched. Above all, Byrne has also been working on the regulatory part of crypto securities and forced a huge breakthrough at the end of 2015. Overstock gained SEC approval to issue its shares using blockchain technology. This will not only make Overstock the first public company listed on blockchains with the approval of the regulator, it will also set a framework for listing more companies on blockchain exchanges in the future. Goes without saying, this thrills our minds!

And who’s next   

In this blog we highlighted just a few companies that are shifting attention to blockchain but there are numerous companies contributing to the adoption of this technology. Without a doubt, 2016 will show new companies entering the scene. We can’t wait so see who sets the next move.

Joost van der Plas

Co-Founder of CryptoCrunch. I believe this is the age of the Technology Revolution and blockchain is at the center of it. I've built several businesses and I'm convinced the next decade will bring a lot of opportunities to built new ones.

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