On October 21, 2016, Visa announced a new partnership with blockchain enterprise company Chain that will develop “a simple, fast and secure way to process B2B payments globally.” Dubbed Visa B2B Connect, the system will offer participating pilot financial institutions a consistent process for managing settlement through Visa’s standard practices.
“The time has never been better for the global business community to take advantage of new payment technologies and improve some of the most fundamental processes needed to run their businesses,” said McCarthy. “We are developing our new solution to give our financial institution partners an efficient, transparent way for payments to be made across the world.”
Visa B2B Connect, which Visa plans to pilot in 2017, is built on Chain Core, an enterprise blockchain infrastructure that facilitates financial transactions on scalable, private blockchain networks. Building on Chain Core, Visa is developing a new, near real-time transaction system designed for the exchange of high-value international payments between participating banks.
“This is an exciting milestone in our partnership with Visa,” said Ludwin. “We are privileged to support Visa’s efforts to enhance the service it provides to its clients and shape the future of international commerce with this blockchain-enabled innovation.”
Now, Chain has announced the release of Chain Core Developer Edition, a free and open source version of Chain Core. The company also published the complete technical specification of the Chain Protocol, a new name for the Chain Open Standard.
“We are thrilled to give developers everywhere open access to Chain’s platform,” said Chain CTO Ryan Smith, “Chain Core Developer Edition provides a seamless end-to-end experience to design, build and test prototypes on a system we created from the ground up, to suit the scalability and security requirements of the financial industry.”
Developers can download and install Chain Core Developer Edition to build financial applications. Included in the offer is a test network for financial applications built on Chain Core, operated by Chain, Microsoft, IC3, and a collaboration of Cornell University, Cornell Tech, UC Berkeley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Israel’s Technion Institute.
The involvement of Microsoft is especially interesting. The software giant has been quietly ramping up its distributed ledger efforts and expertise for some time, focusing on Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) applications on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. In December, Microsoft and ConsenSys released Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) on Azure, to provide to Azure Enterprise clients and developers a single-click, cloud-based blockchain developer environment. Chain Core is a different technology, but equally suited to deployment in the cloud.
“Microsoft believes the potential for blockchain technology to digitally transform the financial industry is enormous.” said Microsoft’s Azure blockchain engineering manager, Marley Gray. “We are pleased to support the operation of the Chain testnet on Microsoft Azure Blockchain as a Service and look forward to collaborating with the ecosystem to enable financial institutions to adopt distributed ledger technology.”
“Chain’s technology is definitely not hype,” said blockchain technology expert Emin Gun Sirer, a Cornell University professor of Computer Science, as reported by Bloomberg Markets. “They are one of the most credible blockchain providers out there.” Gun Sirer added that Chain’s focus on financial services “makes it unique,” and the open source release of Chain Core Developer Edition is a big step.
Chain's Recent Progress
In September 2015, Visa, Nasdaq, Citi and other industry players invested $30 million in Chain.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the organizations we believe are best positioned to capitalize on the inevitable changes in market structure that are on the horizon,” said Chain CEO and Co-Founder Adam Ludwin at the time.
“Visa’s investment in Chain underscores our long-standing commitment to explore technology, like the blockchain, that could have the potential to advance secure and convenient digital payments for our clients and their customers,” added Jim McCarthy, Global Head of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at Visa.
In May, Chain announced the public release of Chain Open Standard 1 (Chain OS 1), an open source blockchain protocol developed in collaboration with global financial services firms, including Capital One, Citigroup, Fidelity, First Data, Fiserv, MUFG, Nasdaq, State Street, and Visa.
"We have been working diligently with our industry partners to release our protocol and software to meet the requirements of the financial services industry," said Ludwin in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine after Chain announced a partnership with The Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3) in August. "The next step for Chain is to bring our partner networks to production. Testing and rolling out such a system is a deliberate exercise."