Microsoft goes big on bitcoin

Satya NadellaStuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm TECHMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella at Fortune’s Brainstorm event.

Microsoft is partnering with ConsenSys, a Brooklyn-based startup that specialises in blockchain, to bring bitcoin and its associated technology to financial institutions, Reuters reports.

Blockchain, the technology that underpins bitcoin, is essentially a vast, decentralised ledger that registers every transaction anonymously. As the ledger is public, blockchain is virtually tamperproof, making it ideal for financial clients.

Blockchain could also underpin other data exchanges, and some companies are building personal blockchains that extend the functionality beyond bitcoin.

By combining ConsenSys’ technology with its own cloud platform, Azure, Microsoft is lending the technology the credibility it needs to be used by financial and other big companies. Four large financial corporations are already on board, according to Microsoft.

The move may seem random but falls into CEO Satya Nadella’s larger focus on cloud-based services that take Microsoft to the user, rather than bringing the user to Microsoft. The company saw 8% growth in its cloud business last quarter.

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