American financial services company and one of the largest and oldest banks in the country, Northern Trust, has won a patent for a blockchain-based technology solution to manage their corporate meetings better. The patent was awarded recently by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Corporate governance has received very high scrutiny all over the world, as a result of high profile corporate scams that shook the confidence of investors as well as general public. There have been doubts concerning the ability of the large corporations to run their business using fair means and transparent practices.
Audits have repeatedly revealed that important corporate governance meetings didn’t take place, or the stakeholders didn’t attend thereby abdicating their responsibilities, and worse still, no records of the meetings have been maintained. These are in direct contravention of the established corporate governance principles and standards, and large businesses worldwide are striving to ensure they have the right business controls.
Corporate governance meetings are many and diverse, while the stakeholders often have divergent interests and conflicting schedules. A technology solution that can automate the tasks of scheduling these important meetings, tracking attendance, recording the minutes of the meetings, and distributing the minutes to all stakeholders in a secure and reliable manner would help.
Northern Trust has zeroed in on the blockchain technology for a technology solution for this ask. The blockchain is a decentralized network where participants maintain a distributed databased in a shared manner. The database has immutable records, thanks to the rigorous consensus mechanism and advanced cryptographic technology used in the technology.
Their patent proposes the following solution:
- The blockchain network will employ multiple smart contracts;
- One smart contract will record attendance by collecting biometric information from the various devices that the stakeholders may carry;
- Another smart contract will collect all pertinent information about the meeting such as the actions and associated dates; This smart contract will also digitally record this information in the minutes of the meeting;
- A third smart contract will automatically post the minutes of the meeting and associated documents in a pre-determined repository in a secured manner.
On the same day, the company has also won a second patent concerning the digital identity management using the blockchain technology. This patent proposes a solution that will work as follows:
- Upon receiving a digital identity creation for a stakeholder, the application will retrieve a template suitable to the type of the stakeholder;
- It will collect reference document and biometric information;
- It will associate the information with the relevant fields of the digital identity record template and create a digital identity record;
- It will generate a cryptographic hash of the new digital identity record and store that on the blockchain as a new block while storing the supporting documents in another repository.
The company will make use of the technology proposed in the second patent to manage the attendance of the stakeholders in the meetings when the first smart contract collected identity information of the attendees.
Northern Trust Corporation, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, USA, has already worked with the technology giant IBM to manage their large private equity business using a blockchain that uses the Hyperledger Fabric enterprise blockchain.
Financial service companies and banks are increasingly innovating using the promising blockchain technology, for e.g.:
- JP Morgan has filed a patent for a blockchain-powered P2P payment solution to facilitate settlements between banks;
- Bank of America seeks to patent a blockchain-based storage solution;
- Amercian Express has applied for a patent where they propose a blockchain technology-based solution to expedite payment transactions.