Land registry across the globe are either distorted or badly managed resulting in a lack of security rights for the general public. Natural disasters, forced evacuations or even dictatorship (in certain countries) makes it exhausting to identify who is the rightful owner of a particular land. Toppled up with corrupted government officials, relying on ‘paper-only’ systems. Inputting land registration on blockchain from the origin to the present can ensure that land registry crisis could be put to a stop through blockchain technology.
In most developing regions, current system of land registry are completely outdated. It’s difficult to track who owns which piece of land when there are hundreds or even thousands of lands that are left unrecorded. To counter this, one relies on discrepancies such as forged documents or counterfeit titles.
Court cases in these developing regions mainly involves civil cases over property disputes. Millions of money are poured daily over fighting court battles between conflicted owners on their rightful claims.
Moreover, due to legal or institutional barriers lands could go unregistered. In the whole process, vulnerable communities such as women and minorities face discrimination due to social systems that doesn’t allow in exercising their rightful claims to land rights.
When you are left with no ownership claims or tools for financial mobility, you are left with fewer options for further progression. Banks find it a no-no to grant loans to those lacking ownership identities if they are looking to set up small businesses thus trapped in the whole vicious cycle of poverty.
Solving Land Registry Crisis Through Blockchain
Blockchain technology in relation to property ownership has the scope to eliminate frauds, tampering as well as illegal forgery of records. Meanwhile, smart contracts makes transfer of land titles a much simpler and convenient process.
Besides facilitating a system of verifiable transactions and securing property rights, it can bring about enhancing trust in land governance. The whole technology can ease up on the property litigation business.
Meanwhile, international standards suggest that the whole process of land administration is essentially a governance issue. The current traditional system of faulty administration and the lack of transparency in the whole process results in insecure land rights.
Although, one cannot completely put it all on the system but it is the lack of proper recording and equity of rights in the first place itself for this whole problem. To understand how blockchain in the land registry can help one needs to also understand how the land registry works in the first place itself.
Picture this, your parents inherited a big piece of property from their ancestors. Interested buyers want to acquire this for a huge sum of money. The problem is: You don’t have the documents to prove that it belongs to you. Undoubtedly the property belongs to your family to start with but there is no any ‘legal’ proof and data for the transaction to take place.
The whole process to solve this can be time-consuming, painstaking and costly that nobody wants to go through. Meanwhile, such properties get abandoned and unnoticed.
Blockchain in the land registry can fix these problems. By using hashes you identify every transaction on the real estate (making it available for the public). This solves the problem of identifying who is the legal and rightful owner of the property.
Through blockchain technology, participants would be able to see changes in the blockchain ledger while accessing the records real-time. Immutability in blockchain technology makes it to be secured since the time it got added.
Is It The Right Time To Implement Blockchain Land Registry?
Despite blockchain’s implementation in land registry, there are certain key challenges if introduced in all countries.
Perhaps the biggest challenges rely on going digital and inputting the accurate. Once data is inputted on the blockchain ledger it can never be changed. Moreover, the whole process would require to completely remove registry errors or frauds before introducing blockchain land registry to the public abruptly.
While going digital is essential as that would permit hashing, the core ingredient of cryptography. On the other hand, developing countries’ reliance on paper-based records makes it a challenge in itself to digitize and update the records for accurate ownership.
That alone signifies that blockchain implementation in land registry is mostly a case of tackling decades of old age land governance challenges.
To make blockchain dynamic in a land registry setting it seems feasible that the relevant country is already digitalized and up to date with proper functioning in the record management system.
Technical Solutions For Blockchain-Based Land Registry
A potential solution of a blockchain-based land registry comprises of the following components:
Private and Permissioned Blockchain: Only participating actors verify transactions, transactions including hashes are recorded and stored.
dApp: dApp is one of the most important components, which does not run directly on the blockchain and includes user interfaces for buyers, sellers, notaries, and land registries
Smart Contract Engine: Smart Contract defines order of transactions, Smart Contracts are only confirmed in the blockchain
External storage: External storage for smart contracts and documents (so that data volume in the blockchain does not get too big)
Electronic land register: Access to metadata in the electronic land registry via API, automated retrieval process remains for the time being
Registration: Actors register
eSignature API: Actors identify themselves
Payment API: Automated payment of the purchase price via trust service.
Land records and blockchain technology is going around for some time to solve the cases of land registry. Land rights are crucial as these symbolize the rights and security of the owner. The international property rights sector is keeping up on the potential of blockchain technology in solving land registry crisis.
Although the initial wave faded as the technology cannot completely fix up the whole approach towards land administration. Nevertheless, it can be applied reasonably and realistically in a piloted stage.