Microsoft is entering a partnership with Blockstack and ConsenSys to develop an open source identity verification system based on the Ethereum blockchain.
"Our goal in contributing to this initiative is to start a conversation on blockchain-based identity that could improve apps, services and, more importantly, the lives of people worldwide by enabling self-owned or self-sovereign identity," said blockchain business strategist Yorke Rhodes on the Microsoft Azure blog.
Blockstack is a group of developers, companies and organisations developing a set of software protocols and tools to serve as a common identity and naming back-end for blockchain-powered applications.
ConsenSys builds decentralised applications and tools for blockchain, with a focus on Ethereum, the platform and programming language that allows applications to be built on top of a blockchain.
Microsoft will port the Blockstack servers and infrastructure to the Azure cloud and integrate them with other services to provide identity and authentication.
Rhodes explained that it will be an "open source, self-sovereign, blockchain-based identity system that allows people, products, apps and services to interoperate across blockchains, cloud providers and organisations".
The collaboration with ConsenSys will allow people to choose between different blockchain systems and thus avoid being locked in to one particular type. The overall goal is to provide an identity and authentication system with global reach.
"The self-sovereign nature of the solution enables many scenarios and becomes an asset owned by the individual, with attributes doled out on a time bounded basis only to parties with a need to know," Rhodes said.
Blockchain technologies provide an immutable and incorruptible record of transactions and are the basis of cypto currencies like bitcoin. They are currently attracting major investment from tech companies and the financial sector.
Santander unveiled the first UK blockchain for international money transfers last week, while IBM announced a blockchain-as-a-service offering on its Bluemix cloud platform in February together with DevOps tools to allow developers to create, test and deploy blockchain applications in the cloud.
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