Tech 2 October 2018

Paul How

UK land registry plans blockchain integration

Her Majesty’s (HM) Land Registry, which holds 25 million land titles in England and Wales, may soon be using blockchain technology to document purchases of real estate.

In a press release, the agency announced its partnership with software company Methods, which will be using the Corda platform for the second phase of the UK government project dubbed Digital Street.

HM Land Registry Chief Executive Graham Farrant said, “Our ambition to become the world’s leading land registry for speed, ease of use and an open approach to data requires HM Land Registry to be at the forefront of global innovation in land registration… [W]e are taking another step toward that goal, as we explore how new technologies like blockchain can help us to develop a faster, simpler and cheaper land registration process.”

Methods CEO Peter Rowlins said, “When we read the HM Land Registry requirement, we recognized that the unique features offered by Corda in terms of security, privacy, interoperability and the smart contract flow framework, originally designed for financial services, would be an excellent fit.”

Methods had already begun using digital technology for a small selection of properties even prior to the blockchain project.

The HM Land Registry estimates that it handles property contracts whose worth totals over £4 trillion ($5.2 trillion), including around £1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) of mortgages, and this represents more than 85% of the land mass of both England and Wales. Digital Street is the agency’s research and development project begun last year, that uses new technologies to improve the process of buying and selling properties.

Corda is an open-source blockchain platform being developed by more than 200 entities from various industries in both private and public sectors. The blockchain has already been applied in financial services, health care, shipping and insurance.

David Rutter, CEO of legal consortium R3 that developed the Corda platform, said, “Blockchain holds the potential to transform land registry services by improving speed, simplicity and efficiency. We will be working closely with HM Land Registry, Methods and our partners over the coming months to turn this potential into reality.”

Blockchain technology has already been tested as a solution for land registry in Brazil, where the agency Cartorio de Registro de Imovies has partnered with Delaware-based Ubitquity.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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