Microsoft to Develop Identity Platform for Multiple Blockchains

Microsoft has partnered with two startups to build an identity platform aimed to integrating with both the bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains.

AccessTimeIconMay 31, 2016 at 4:38 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:18 p.m. UTC

Tech giant Microsoft has partnered with startups Blockstack Labs and ConsenSys to build an open-source identity platform aimed at integrating the bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains.

An early version of the identity solution is expected to be available by the end of this summer.

In a blog post published today, Microsoft global business strategist Yorke Rhodes wrote that in the coming weeks Microsoft will launch an open source framework on Azure, where developers can build their own identity applications.

Rhodes told CoinDesk that this cross-chain applicability was of particular importance to those involved with the initiative.

He said in a statement:

"Important to the open source blockchain identity initiative is that it is ubiquitous across chains and survivable over time. This mandates an initial solution and partners to prove it out that are cross chain. We are excited to see what this collaboration produces."

Cross-chain platform

Connectivity with the Ethereum blockchain will take place via ConsenSys' uPort solution, and Blockstack’s OneName product will be used to integrate the platform with the bitcoin blockchain.

According to Microsoft, an early stage framework will be published on its Azure cloud computing platform. The platform has seen a number of blockchain integrations since it began offering services focused on the technology last year.

ConsenSys chief strategy officer Sam Cassatt highlighted the cross-blockchain nature of the project, saying that he believes providing a reliable form of identity to developing nations would be more effective across multiple chains.

"While we have two fairly robust blockchain technologies, we think it’s important for the self-sovereign and humanitarian ends of our project, that we partner in such a way that provides access to as many people as possible," he told CoinDesk.

Focus on identity

The project comes amid growing interest among global organizations in the use of blockchain technology to address long-standing issues related to identity in developing nations.

According to the World Bank, as many as 1.5 billion people worldwide lack "legal identity," making it much more difficult for them to obtain a bank account and access other services including education and social welfare programs.

The partnership itself was solidified in New York last week at the ID2020 Summit hosted in the United Nations building, an event aimed at highlighting the issue and the ways in which technology can provide potential solutions.

Groups like the Commonwealth Secretariat, the executive arm of the Commonwealth of Nations, have also been eyeing the issue, particularly on the applicability of blockchain. The Commonwealth is currently developing its own blockchain messaging service with identity protections.

Blockstack co-founder Muneeb Ali, described today's announcement to CoinDesk in a statement:

"Our collaboration with Microsoft and ConsenSys can lead to a global standard for blockchain identity and creating new identities can become as easy as creating new email accounts."

Image via CoinDesk


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