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The blockchain consortium led by R3CEV, a group of 42 global banks working on blockchain applications that includes JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and more, is now working with tech giant Microsoft.

The full partnership, which was first tested back in January with a smaller group of R3’s members, gives the consortium access to more than just Microsoft's platform of Blockchain-as-a-Service tools.

Charley Cooper, managing director of R3, told CoinDesk that the formal partnership came after a series of tests with other potential partners, including Amazon and IBM. A dedicated team of five Microsoft employees is now working directly with consortium members.

Cooper told CoinDesk:

“Throughout the experiments we started to realize that the level of expertise they gave us in terms of the man-power and the technology actually made them the ideal partner.”

Under the terms of the non-exclusive deal, Microsoft will provide access to 45 cloud-based tools on its Azure platform, including those created by ConsenSys, Ripple, Eris Industries, Factom, BitPay, and other startups working with the technology.

In addition to the software, Microsoft has set aside a team of “dedicated technical architects, project managers, lab assistants and support services” to work with consortium members around the world.

The partnership comes after 11 of R3’s consortium members, including Barclays, Credit Suisse, and Well Fargo, completed a test of private version of the Ethereum network using Microsoft’s Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform in January.

“R3 and member banks will experiment and learn faster, accelerating distributed ledger technology deployment,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of global business development at Microsoft, in a statement. “What’s more, our collaboration brings to light tremendous opportunities to rethink business processes and transform entire industries.”

In a separate blog post written by Johnson as part of the Microsoft Envision conference in New Orleans, she wrote that the partnership will help streamline back-office operations, “potentially saving billions of dollars.”

Over the coming weeks and months Cooper says he expect the full scope of the partnership with Microsoft will expand, depending on how the software company and the banking consortium work together.

Cooper said:

“Where this raises the stakes is rather than just a couple experiments we view this as a long term partnership that will expand.”

Image via R3


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