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Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase Team Up on Blockchain Efforts

Matthew Frankel, CFP, The Motley Fool

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) is taking its blockchain technology efforts a step further by partnering with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to power its platform. This shows that although cryptocurrency madness may have faded in 2018, the pursuit of blockchain technology is alive and well.

If you aren't familiar, blockchain is the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. It is essentially a digital ledger system that keeps track of transaction information and is able to share it with many different parties, all while making sure the data can't be tampered with and is always up-to-date. Here's an overview of what the partnership entails, and what it could mean for the companies. 

Design of hexagons with blockchain written in the middle hexagon.

Image source: Getty Images.

Microsoft's Azure will power JPMorgan's blockchain platform 

The goal of the JPMorgan Chase Quorum platform is to allow enterprises to build blockchain applications quickly and easily. By partnering with Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing service, clients will have access to its tools and technology. In a nutshell, partnering with Microsoft will likely make it far easier for clients to complete blockchain projects than it otherwise would be, and it also opens up Microsoft's vast enterprise customer base to Quorum.

After the partnership was announced, Peggy Johnson, Microsoft's executive vice president for business development, said: "We're thrilled to partner with a leader like JPMorgan to establish a foundation on which enterprises and partners can rapidly build and scale blockchain networks. Together, we're taking a truly transformative technology like Quorum and making it available through the Azure platform to accelerate innovation for our customers."   

To give an example of how Quorum could be applied to real-world situations, LMVH, owner of the Louis Vuitton luxury brand, is using blockchain technology through Quorum to track and prove the authenticity of its luxury goods.

Quorum has existed for about four years, and was built on the Ethereum blockchain network. In addition to the enterprise potential of the platform, JPMorgan Chase uses Quorum internally to apply the technology to banking-related information transfers, as well as for its internal cryptocurrency JPM Coin. 

"We are incredibly proud of Quorum's success, as organizations around the world use it to solve complex business and societal problems," said Umar Farooq, JPMorgan Chase's global head of blockchain. 

JPMorgan's blockchain efforts 

Despite some negative comments over the past few years from CEO Jamie Dimon regarding bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, JPMorgan Chase management clearly sees potential in the underlying blockchain technology. 

Quorum has been around for about four years, and by most accounts has been very successful. Additionally, earlier this year, JPMorgan Chase announced that it planned to launch its own cryptocurrency, known as JPM Coin, which made it the first major U.S. bank to do so.  

The bank's cryptocurrency and blockchain efforts are intended to speed up transaction settlement times -- that is, reducing the time it takes for transactions to settle from hours or days, to almost instantaneously.  

It's also worth mentioning that JPM Coin is a "stable coin," with a value pegged to the U.S. dollar. In other words, it will always be worth the same amount in dollars, unlike most other major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum, whose values fluctuate over time.  

What it could mean 

Partnering with Microsoft could greatly expand the reach of Quorum and blockchain technology in enterprise applications. And, while it's still in the early stages, there are virtually unlimited potential uses for the technology, especially as it becomes easier to use. 

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Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Matthew Frankel, CFP has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.