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Spain's Securities Market Watchdog Completes Blockchain Test

Spain’s securities markets watchdog and a group of financial institutions including Banco Santander have completed a blockchain pilot aimed at testing the tech for registering stock warrant issuances.

The year-long Fast Track Listing (FTL) project saw participation from the Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) as well as banks such as Banco Santander, BBVA, BNP Paribas, CaixaBank, Commerzbank and Société Générale.

The idea is that shared databases can be used to more effectively register information about the issuance of warrants – contracts bearing the right to purchase new shares at a certain price before they expire – and filter that data to all parties. According to Banco Santander, the pilot showed that the time to register a warrant issuance was cut by more than 70 percent using the pilot platform.

Initial results from the test were promising, the group indicated, setting the stage for further proofs-of-concept around the technology.

“After obtaining such good results, CNMV has decided to continue exploring the possible uses of this technology in its processes and carry on with the project. BME and all the national warrant issuers (BBVA, Caixabank and Banco Santander), as well as international warrant issuers (BNP Paribas, Commerzbank and Société Générale), are also actively contributing to this project,” according to statements.

Banco Santander bank image via Shutterstock

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Santander Conducts Proxy Voting Blockchain Pilot at AGM

Banco Santander has completed a blockchain pilot that it says improves the process of proxy voting during annual general meetings (AGMs).

For the project, announced Thursday, Santander partnered with global fintech firm Broadridge and custodian banks JPMorgan and Northern Trust, describing it in a press release as the “first practical use of blockchain” for shareholder voting.

However, it should be noted that other entities such as Nasdaq, the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange and a group of central securities depositories, including Russia’s National Settlement Depository, have all conducted pilots, are developing systems or have launched platforms around the use case.

The Broadridge-built solution – piloted previously in April of last year – aims to improve transparency in the global proxy voting system, while also increasing security, efficiency, security and analytics, the release says.

The pilot was concluded on March 23 for the Spanish banking giant’s AGM and saw participation from Santander’s blockchain lab and Corporate Services, which acted as the issuer’s agent. The blockchain solution was used to produce a “shadow” digital register of the proxy voting system taking place in parallel using the conventional voting model.

Sergio Gamez, global head of shareholders and investor relations at Santander, said that, for a listed company like Santander, the AGM is one of the most important corporate governance events.

Gamez explained:

“It is very important to ensure the participation by investors and shareholders, and this year using blockchain technology for the institutional vote has been a great help in terms of transparency and agility across the vote life cycle.”

As mentioned above, Broadridge executed a similar pilot focused on proxy voting in collaboration with the same partners last April. The project used a private version of the ethereum blockchain as a backup system to more traditional voting software. The trial was conducted at an annual meeting at Santander Investments.

“The successful completion of a second pilot along with the next phase of our blockchain-based proxy voting solution demonstrates Broadridge’s continued commitment to developing innovative technology solutions in the re-imagination and improvement of global proxy,” said Patricia Rosch, president of investor communications at Broadridge.

Santander image via Shutterstock

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Bank Consortium to Launch Joint Venture for Blockchain Trade Platform

A consortium of banks is planning to launch a joint business venture for its in-development blockchain commerce platform.

Aiming to ease European domestic and cross-border trade, the Digital Trade Chain group is building a distributed ledger framework that connects a buyer, sellers, banks and intermediaries to simplify transaction management and tracking.

To that end, the consortium will create a new business entity in the Republic of Ireland, jointly owned by the eight founding banks, that will manage and distribute the offering, now rebranded as “we.trade.” The new entity is expected to be formed sometime by the end of the year.

“The commercialization of the platform is expected in Q2 2018. From February 2018, test clients of the founding banks will be able to use the platform,” the consortium said in a statement.

First unveiled in January, Digital Trade Chain now counts Banco Santander among its membership, alongside Deutsche Bank, HSBC, KBC, Natixis, Rabobank, Societe Generale and UniCredit – as well as IBM.

The coming months will also see efforts to attract additional parties to the consortium in addition to financial services. One area of focus will be companies involved in the trade process, including in shipping – an industry that has seen rapidly growing interest in blockchain tech in recent months.

Cargo port image via Shutterstock

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