Santander Succeeds in Blockchain Trial to Count Investor Votes

Santander and tech firm Broadridge Financial Solutions collaborated for a blockchain pilot to count investors’ voted during the bank’s annual general meeting.

Multinational bank Santander used blockchain technology for the company’s voting process at its annual general meeting held on March 23. The Eurozone’s largest bank by market cap collaborated with tech firm Broadridge Financial Solutions to test the technology. Investors and shareholders voted as usual, but the bank created a shadow register to speed up the counting and ensure the accuracy and transparency of the process.

The bank concluded that blockchain was efficient at supporting corporate democracy and simplifying the voting process.

JPMorgan and Northern Trust participated in the experiment as custodian banks. The distributed ledger technology used at the annual general meeting was developed based on JPMorgan’s Quorum platform in collaboration with Santander’s own blockchain lab. The test covered 21% of institutional votes during the meeting. Santander has over 4 million shareholders with 60.7% of shares being owned by institutional investors.

Investors could see their votes counted and confirmed in real-time rather than having to wait for about two weeks, as it usually happens during such events.

Sergio Gámez, Santander’s global head of shareholders and investor relations stated that the annual meeting in March was one of the most important governance events for a listed company.

“In the case of Santander, having very fragmented capital, it is important to ensure the participation by investors and shareholders. This year using blockchain technology for the institutional vote has been a great help in terms of transparency and agility,” he said.

It is not the first instance when the Spanish company leverages blockchain. Last month, the giant launched a blockchain-powered forex cross-border payments system. The platform was developed based on Ripple’s xCurrent technology. The One Pay FX system, as the platform is called, can now be used by customers in Spain, Poland, the UK, and Brazil.

Justin Chapman, global head of market advocacy and innovation research at Northern Trust, which also took part in the test, commented:

“We are excited about the next phase in creating end-to-end vote transparency using blockchain as an enabler.”