Top three Japanese life insurer, Meiji Yasuda Life, is planning to adopt blockchain for shareholder meetings in July next year. As a result of COVID-19, both the Japanese government and the Japanese Business Federation, Keidanren, have recommended alternative approaches to enable shareholders to vote at corporate meetings without attending in person.
Last July, Meiji Yasuda Life held a virtual meeting that required members to submit a power of attorney in advance. The major disadvantage of this approach is someone might want to alter their vote after hearing speeches and discussions at a meeting. But if the vote is already submitted in paper, that’s not possible.
The life insurance firm has adopted a blockchain solution developed by Japanese IT firm Asteria which uses an enterprise version of the Ethereum blockchain. At a December 2020 meeting, questions will be accepted in real-time. But once legal issues are resolved, the system will be considered for blockchain voting at the general meeting in July 2021.
Blockchain proxy voting is quite a popular application. Concerns about using blockchain for political voting could spill over into voting for annual general meetings (AGMs). That remains to be seen. At least two other solutions are being trialed in Japan. One from BitFlyer launched six months ago, and another from Broadridge first trialed two years ago in conjunction with ICJ, a joint venture with the Tokyo Stock Exchange.