Vote2U: A Homegrown Tech Startup During The MCO That Helps Public Listed Companies Host AGMs Virtually Amid COVID-19

Vote2U is a Malaysian startup born during the MCO period. Till date, Vote2U has helped more than 20 public listed companies (PLC) host their Annual General Meeting (AGM)/Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) online via Blockchain-powered Remote Participation and Voting (RPV) platform. Vote2U has generated more than RM300,000 in revenue within 3 months from launching. This truly demonstrates the quote from John F. Kennedy – “In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity”.

The Startup Story

In early March, Tan was contacted by Andy Wong, who is the CEO of Excel Force MSC Berhad, on the possibility of conducting their AGM virtually amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Tan immediately brainstormed with his team to build a RPV platform, leveraging their patent-pending Blockchain e-voting solution, which was used to conduct the first ever large-scale election in Malaysia on Blockchain for Multimedia University’s Student Representative Council Election 2019 across 3 campuses (Cyberjaya, Melaka and Johor). On 18 April 2020, Securities Commission Malaysia issued the first “Guidance and FAQs on the Conduct of General Meetings for Listed Issuers” with the enforcement of Movement Control Order (MCO) to enforce PLC to conduct only fully virtual general meetings. The team anticipated that there will be a hot demand right after the announcement. Within 2 months during the MCO period, the team demonstrated superb remote teamwork capability to build and launch Vote2U for the first PLC client’s EGM on 22 May.

Vote2U’s Features

A typical RPV software consists of 3 main features – view live streaming, ask questions and voting. Being a newcomer in the RPV market, Vote2U faced stiff competition from the established players, which are global virtual AGM software providers and multinational corporate service providers. Vote2U differentiates from the competitors by offering some unique propositions, which includes Electronic Know-Your-Customer (e-KYC), Records of Depositors (ROD) integration and Blockchain audit trail.

Vote2U uses e-KYC technology to verify shareholders’ identity against identity document, which is instant, whereas competitors use manual verification, which takes a few working hours to a few working days. Vote2U also integrates with ROD exported from Bursa directly to ensure the user is a shareholder of specific PLC, whereas competitors require shareholders to perform pre-registration as manual checking is required against ROD. With both e-KYC and ROD integration, shareholders do not have to pre-register 2 days before the AGM like other competitors’ product. A genuine shareholder can sign up to join the AGM even on the AGM day itself. Besides, since the voting result is crucial as it could involve substantial monetary value, Vote2U uses Quorum Blockchain technology as the audit trail to ensure data integrity and tamper-proof voting result.

What About Hybrid Meetings?

Vote2U is designed as a universal solution for fully virtual, hybrid and physical general meetings. In the case of hybrid and physical general meetings, shareholders will be provided a QR-code polling slip, where shareholders can scan the QR code using their own smartphone to perform voting.

This is a desirable approach amid the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to using a shared polling kiosk or polling device, which could potentially lead to COVID-19 spread due to the physical contact. In terms of quality recognition, Vote2U has passed both independent assessment/application controls review by Crowe Horwath and cybersecurity/penetration testing by NetAssist. Vote2U has also hosted the AGM with more than 28,000 of voting records, which is the highest among all hosted virtual AGMs so far.

Beyond the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) period, Securities Commission Malaysia still encourages PLC to continue leveraging technology to conduct their general meetings and communication with shareholders. This is a great driving factor for Vote2U to continue growing in the RPV sector. Vote2U has also planned to scale the business beyond the PLC sector into the AGM for property joint management body (JMB), association and co-operative societies (koperasi). There is also interest shown from overseas market, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Vote2U’s core team members include Tan Aik Keong, Lee Ron Kit and Chong Wen Ling. Vote2U is Tan’s brainchild and in charge of business development, Lee is the magician fr tech-building, and Chong is the beautician who crafts the user interface/user experience of Vote2U.

Check out their product-site and their info-site to find out more about this app!