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Nasdaq hails Estonian blockchain pilot for proxy voting

24 January 2017  |  6321 views  |  0 Nasdaq time square New york

Nasdaq has successfully completed a proof-of-concept using blockchain technology to streamline proxy voting on companies listed on its Tallinn Stock Exchange, hinting that a wider rollout could be in the pipeline.

Last year the US exchange operator began testing the e-voting platform at its Estonian subsidiary as a way to boost participation in Annual General Meetings (AGMs).

The firm used smart contract technology from specialist vendor Chain to implement the voting functionality while piggy-backing off Estonia's e-Residency platform - a digital authentication service used by both Estonian residents and those with business interests in the country to access government services - to identify shareholders and then record votes on its private blockchain.

Nasdaq says that the PoC has proved a success, offering investors the ability to view information about meetings and then vote before or during them. Users can also transfer their voting rights to proxies and monitor how the proxies vote on their behalf.

Meanwhile, custodians can vote on behalf of their clients or distribute voting rights to beneficial owners via file upload. Ownership information, vote and voting right token transfers are recorded to the blockchain ledger.

Among the firms to have tested the system is LHV Group, whose CEO Madis Toomsalu says: "Testing of the prototype was convenient and simple. If the future solution enables mobile ID authentication as well and the security is granted, then we would definitely consider using the product in the future."

With most blockchain chatter centering on settlement transactions, Nasdaq concedes that e-voting tech may not be "the next killer app" but insists that "it is very much a practical, necessary, solution that has many potential applications around the world".

"By leveraging blockchain technology we see enormous potential for greater efficiency and integrity in Annual Meeting and shareholder voting process and this is a very positive step for our industry and for the kind of potential that blockchain continues to represent for the capital markets," says a report.

For now, the company says it will explore how the PoC can be applied, suggesting that end-users could potentially be listed and non-listed companies, investment funds, trade industry associations, NGOs, but also investors and custodians all over the world.

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