‘Big Four’ Firm KPMG Talks New Blockchain Services Suite

Michael del Castillo
Sep 15, 2016 at 12:11 UTC
Updated Sep 15, 2016 at 20:42 UTC
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Global accounting firm KPMG yesterday launched a suite of tools designed to help banks and other financial services firms build with blockchain in a compliant way.

A formalization of its work with distributed ledgers, the Amsterdam-based accounting firm that last year generated $24bn revenue, in turn, has expanded its partnership with Microsoft to integrate with its blockchain-as-a-service toolkit.

But as KPMG just so happens to be one of the four biggest accounting firms in the world, its US and global lead for Digital Ledger Services told CoinDesk that the news is about more than simply advertising itself as a lead generator for Microsoft.

Eammon Maguire noted that it’s important the firm remain neutral in advising clients, and that KPMG currently has multiple other strategic alliances in various stages of development.

Eamonn Maguire told CoinDesk:

“We’re bringing our own pre-existing process expertise and regulatory expertise to the table in combination with our blockchain expertise.”

To that end, KPMG’s Digital Ledger Services are designed to include “full life-cycle support” of blockchain application development, which means the firm is offering a range of services, from business case development to systems and operations integration.

The support combines management consulting and risk consulting with regulation “as the backbone” of the work, according to the firm.

But while Macguire describes the Microsoft partnership as “very important,” he asserted that KPMG is currently looking into “other alliances” that would bring its services additional expertise in areas like know-your-customer compliance.

“We have other partnerships not quite as formalized as Microsoft,” Macguire said.

For the regulated

To help the accounting firm build compliant blockchain applications, KPMG has expanded its existing partnership with Microsoft, but that, too, was already in production.

Since March of 2015, the accounting firm has been working with the software giant to jointly develop multiple suites of services in data analytics, compliance and business solutions, and this can be seen as an expansion of that relationship.

Now, Microsoft is providing its blockchain platform to help clients in “highly regulated” industries including financial services, healthcare, and government.

The new area of collaboration is designed to help clients efficiently and securely move to the cloud for storage, while incorporating blockchain efficiencies.

“We’re excited to be expanding our efforts with KPMG to develop blockchain services,” Microsoft’s director of blockchain business development, Marley Gray, said in a statement.

As indicated by interest from IBM and Microsoft, there remains a big belief among enterprises that private blockchain services will require hosting and security, both features the competing companies hope to provide.

Scaling operations

In total, KPMG has assigned about 80 people to work specifically on blockchain. Headquartered in New York, that team of specialists is dispersed throughout the US.

But according to Maguire, globally, a total of 160 people have now been cross-trained to provide blockchain services.

That global team includes the data and analytics group focusing on coding and development in support of proofs of concept, prototyping and integration of blockchain capabilities.

Several of those employees last month met in New York with representatives from each of the other “Big Four” accounting firms to consider the potential benefits of forming an accounting consortium.

Still in the discussion phase, the project organized by Brooklyn-based Consensys is looking into the potential benefits blockchain could bring to the accounting industry on a global scale.

Macguire told CoinDesk that an update on the status of that dialogue would be forthcoming, providing color to earlier remarks about strategic partnerships.

Eamonn concluded:

“Eventually, we see the blockchain as a platform for the provision of services. We will get to the point where auditors and regulators will use the blockchain to perform their analysis.”

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