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.
As 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 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 like financial services, health care 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.
Bank of America:
Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 47 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,700 retail financial centers, approximately 16,000 ATMs, and award-winning online banking with approximately 33 million active accounts and more than 20 million mobile active users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the marketing name for the global banking and global markets businesses of Bank of America Corporation. Lending, derivatives, and other commercial banking activities are performed globally by banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation, including Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC. Securities, strategic advisory, and other investment banking activities are performed globally by investment banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation (“Investment Banking Affiliates”), including, in the United States, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp., all of which are registered broker-dealers and Members of SIPC, and, in other jurisdictions, by locally registered entities. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp. are registered as futures commission merchants with the CFTC and are members of the NFA. Investment products offered by Investment Banking Affiliates: Are Not FDIC Insured * May Lose Value * Are Not Bank Guaranteed.
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.