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Broadridge claims first use of blockchain to count shareholder votes

An employee at work at Broadridge Financial Solutions'

An employee at work at Broadridge Financial Solutions' investor communications facility in Edgewood. Credit: Johnny Milano

Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. announced Thursday the “first practical use of blockchain” technology to count shareholder votes at the annual meeting of a public company.

The Lake Success-based provider of communication services to public companies and banks said it used blockchain to tabulate votes at the annual meeting of Banco Santander, the giant Spanish bank.

Blockchain is a continuously growing list of data or records, called blocks, which are linked together and secured from theft by cryptography. The technology is most often associated with virtual money such as bitcoin.

Broadridge said it tested blockchain at Santander’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Spain on March 23. Blockchain was used to produce a digital register of the proxy voting taking place.

Santander, the euro zone’s largest bank by market capitalization, has more than 4 million shareholders.

Santander investors “had the opportunity during the annual general meeting to see how their votes could be counted and confirmed much more quickly [it will be possible to do this instantly] thanks to the blockchain technology, instead of having to wait two weeks in a process that includes manual activity,” Broadridge said Thursday in a statement.

More than 20 percent of the shareholders who voted at the Santander annual meeting used the new technology.

“This could also help motivation to vote, which improves corporate democracy,” Broadridge said.

Patricia Rosch, president of Broadridge’s international investor communication solutions division, said the company will “continue to implement the newest technologies, such as blockchain, to improve corporate governance and address the latest regulatory requirements.”

Most public companies and banks in the United States rely on Broadridge to delivery annual reports, proxy statements and other documents to investors and to tabulate shareholder votes at annual meetings.

Luis Antonio Perez, head of corporate services at Santander, said, “The blockchain technology has enhanced efficiency and transparency upon the reception and vote tabulation process.”

Broadridge shares closed down $1.28, or 1.1 percent, to $113.81 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story attributed the final quote to an incorrect Santander executive. 

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