IBM launches a cheaper platform for start-ups to build Blockchain projects

IBM has unveiled a new blockchain product that lets start-ups and developers build their own distributed ledger projects.

The service is a cheaper alternative to Big Blue’s current enterprise plan for firms looking to develop blockchain applications.

Blockchain, otherwise known as distributed ledger technology, is a massive distributed database that maintains a growing record of transactions or other data. It was originally used to underpin the digital currency bitcoin — although cryptocurrencies are not what IBM is focusing on with its blockchain endeavors.

Different to the public blockchain network that underpins bitcoin, IBM’s technology only allows a certain number of trusted parties to access it. This type of blockchain is known as “permissioned.”

IBM’s blockchain starter plan is currently in beta testing mode, and is free for developers to use until commercial release. The firm did not disclose how much the product would cost once it is fully released.

“The new plan is perfect for pilot projects and early stage development work for those who want to build solutions on the IBM blockchain platform which currently has over 250 active blockchain networks,” Marie Wieck, general manager of IBM Blockchain, told CNBC in an email on Wednesday.

“Our expertise in building and scaling networks is invaluable and will be shared across a wide ecosystem.”

The firm also announced the launch of new services aimed at helping firms explore and commercialize their own blockchain applications.

Several well-established companies have been piloting blockchain technology with IBM’s platform. Some big businesses are more at ease with the idea of permissioned blockchains like IBM’s as they are designed to be tamper proof and keep transaction data private.