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Not Bitcoin, but close: Red Hat and Microsoft bite into blockchain tech

Come to OpenShift, poke and prod it, see if it's useful

Red Hat is offering upstart financial types the opportunity to play with blockchain tech on its OpenShift platform.

The news comes a day after Microsoft struck a deal to investigate blockchain tech in partnership with major financial institutions.

In a blog post, Redmond exec veep of business development, Peggy Johnson, wrote the firm would work with the R3 consortium of 40 odd banks to “develop, test and deploy blockchain technologies to modernize decades-old processes and streamline operations, potentially saving billions of dollars from back-office operations.”

Needless to say, members of the R3 will be using Azure.

As Red Hat puts it in its announcement, “Using OpenShift Dedicated, fintech startups, ISVs, and financial institutions can explore blockchain-based cloud services that use open source technology to develop updated transactional applications that can help streamline business processes on a transparent and more secure platform.”

In addition to the OpenShift service, Red Hat will offer ISVs training workshops and OpenShift Commons membership, as well as “enablement materials” and “go-to-market activities”.

The blockchain is the underlying idea behind Bitcoin – an ever-growing database, or public ledger, that plots every transaction of the crypto currency, or presumably of anything else you'd care to record. While some of the hype around the crypto-currency itself has abated recently, the blockchain concept has garnered serious interest from financial players, tech companies and academics. Imperial College, for example, has a Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering.

As Johnson puts it: “The blockchain offers a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets.”

Indeed, she goes on, “the blockchain modernizes legacy financial processes, so trades of assets like stocks and bonds can be finalized in minutes, not days. And by enabling a more direct transfer of ownership, it eliminates the need for middlemen like clearing houses, both cutting costs and greatly reducing the risk of fraud.”

So there you go. If you’re sick of bankers and other suited types skimming off their percentage every time your cash and financial instruments move from A to B, the blockchain promises a brave new world which cuts out the middlemen. Or at least allows them to secure their rake off even faster.

You can find out a little more about the blockchain in Jamie Bartlett’s Reg lecture from last summer. ®

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