On March 5, financial messaging service SWIFT announced the launch of a blockchain e-voting proof of concept (PoC). Participants in the PoC experiment include the Singapore Exchange (SGX), Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, DBS Bank, and HSBC Bank.
SWIFT, in conjunction with software securities firm SLIB, will conduct the trial during the first half of this year in the Asia-Pacific region. The experiment will determine whether blockchain technology can "simplify the currently inefficient management of shareholder meetings and the associated voting processes..." According to SWIFT, its paper-based voting process takes an inordinate amount of time and resources, is too complex, and often leads to errors, particularly when it comes to proxy voting.
Lisa O'Connor, a managing director at SWIFT, hopes the trial will improve the efficiency and transparency of the process:
"The expression of shareholders' rights is often limited today by non-transparent, complex and inefficient paper-based processes. The emergence of blockchain technology is a new opportunity to look at improving these processes."
Per the press release, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank will act as participants and use the SWIFT network to "access, test and validate" the applicability of blockchain technology. DBS and SGX, meanwhile, will act as both participants and issuers.
During the first half of 2019, the experiment will focus on testing how to implement the new voting system within legacy systems and work with SWIFT's existing messaging standard. The experiment will also show the team whether SWIFT's sandbox can host third-party applications and determine whether SWIFT's interface and security software can be used for these purposes.
SWIFT and many of the banks participating in the experiment have been quite active in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. In June 2017, Deutsche Bank joined with six other major banks and IBM to develop a blockchain platform for international trade. In March 2018, SWIFT released its findings of a proof-of-concept trial intended to "support automated real-time liquidity monitoring and reconciliation."