JPMorgan spinoff Kadena puts blockchain on AWS—and on the table for small and medium-sized businesses

JP Morgan building
Kadena's blockchain platform got its start at JPMorgan, but it spun off due to regulatory concerns. (Håkan Dahlström/CC BY 2.0)


Ben Jessel, Kadena head of growth

Blockchain's role in healthcare has generated a lot of buzz, but its development costs have mostly kept it in the realm of bigger firms.

Now Kadena, a spinoff from JPMorgan, is aiming to change that by giving small and medium-sized businesses an on-ramp to the technology. 


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The startup announced Wednesday morning that it would be moving its blockchain development platform to Amazon Web Services. It hopes that this accessibility can eliminate or reduce the upfront costs of setting up blockchain nodes.

"There's a lot of organizations that want to use blockchain technology but don't necessarily have a very large footprint. So we want to make sure that that end of the market—the smaller end of the market—is able to do that in a frictionless kind of way," said Ben Jessel, Kadena's head of growth, in an interview with FierceHealthcare.

Jessel said companies would be able to set up a rudimentary blockchain using Kadena's platform in three clicks. The platform also offers a free trial option so that firms can demo potential use cases before paying for the service.

That's a crucial factor for healthcare, which is still hammering out viable use cases. Blockchain has piqued the interest of many healthcare startups that still aren't quite sure how to incorporate it into their business models.

RELATED: Blockchain in healthcare: 3 promising use cases in a sea of skepticism

"Everyone wants to experiment before they buy, so this kind of does give them an opportunity to really have a sandbox to do a number of proof-of-concepts," he said.

One healthcare firm already demonstrating use cases through Kadena is Rymedi, which thus far has been focused on deploying hepatitis C vaccines in Mongolia. It uses blockchain technology to govern its patient management system, and Kadena will become its gateway into the U.S.

That's the kind of democratized opportunity brought by accessibility on AWS, which is ubiquitous and easy to use. Previous blockchain use cases in healthcare have been the combined effort of industry titans, such as the Synaptic Health Alliance, which has been hard at work creating a "golden record" for provider contact data. That project has input from Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Optum, Quest Diagnostics, Aetna, Ascension and Multiplan, and has been in progress for almost a year.

RELATED: Aetna, Ascension join blockchain alliance targeting provider directories

"Kadena’s enterprise blockchain can securely update the data in smart contracts on chain. In contrast, you’re seeing other blockchains such as Ethereum needing to hard fork for upgrades, which is not attractive to enterprises because of the associated disruption and risk," wrote Vivienne Chen, Kadena's media, communications and PR manager, in an email to FierceHealthcare.

Despite Kadena's origins at JPMorgan, this partnership is not a direct manifestation of Amazon and JPMorgan Chase's much-scrutinized plans. Kadena said it still has lots of association with JPMorgan, but its new home on AWS is more a factor of technical feasibility, the company said.

"I would say it's more of a megatrend. It really is about Amazon providing a portfolio of different technologies increasingly around things like blockchain and banking as a service," Jessel said. 

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