While cryptocurrencies get most of the headlines, it’s the underlying blockchain that possesses enormous potential to transform the physical world—and not just the world of money. Not since the Web itself, has a technology promised broader and more fundamental revolution than blockchain technology. Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, describes the impact of blockchain beautifully by stating, “What the internet did for communications, blockchain will do for trusted transactions.”
Businesses across multiple industries recognize the value that blockchain can bring to their organizations. According to a recent report from Juniper research, about six out of every ten large corporations are either actively considering, or are in the process of deploying blockchain technology.
Compared to a siloed model, where multiple ledgers are maintained separately, blockchain provides all members of a business network a secure and synchronized record of transactions. Blockchain security enables the enterprise to establish accountability and transparency of transactions, lower transaction costs, and reduce fraud from cyber-attacks while streamlining business processes and legal constraints.
While estimates vary, the market for blockchain technology could produce a compound annual growth of 42.8%, reaching $14 billion by 2022, according to data provided by Netscribes. Some forecasts are even more optimistic, estimating that the market will grow from $708 million last year, to $60.7 billion by 2024, according to a report by Wintergreen Research.
Hype aside, the process of creating, running, and managing a blockchain is very complicated. This complexity has deterred many businesses from implementing blockchain technologies, even with the numerous benefits it offers.
Big tech companies have jumped on this opportunity to create a new business model around blockchain. AWS, IBM, and Microsoft, now have Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) offerings, which are sets of cloud services that help customers create, deploy, and manage blockchain networks.
IBM—still salty from completely missing out on the cloud—has invested heavily in blockchain technology. IBM is the only company that has developed its own blockchain, which is based on the Hyperledger Fabric, and is made available through the Bluemix cloud platform.
Other big tech giants have taken a more cautionary approach to blockchain technologies. Unlike IBM, Microsoft and AWS have not created their own blockchain platform. Instead, Microsoft created an Ethereum blockchain as a service (EBaaS) on Microsoft Azure. However, Microsoft differentiates it’s BaaS from other platforms by incorporating intelligent services, such as Cortana Intelligence, to provide unique data management and analysis capabilities.
Coming in a bit late to the game, Amazon just released their BaaS platform last week, AWS Blockchain Templates, which allows quick setup of Ethereum—or Hyperledger Fabric—compatible blockchain networks. A nice feature is that the service is offered on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, where the client pays only for the service and resources used.
There is no doubt that BaaS is set to grow further and become the latest revolution in the fintech industry worldwide. However, these solutions do more than just help finance companies leverage blockchain technologies. Think bigger. BaaS catalyzes universal blockchain adoption spanning across all business and industries. We are just in the first inning, so have a beer, sit back and enjoy the game.