Redefining the Land Title Using Blockchain

Bringing Property Rights to the Developing World

If you live in a wealthy country, then property rights may be something that you never had to worry about or even consider. Proving that you own your land is simple due to the government having a formal land registry. Legal title rights allow for the easy exchange of land ownership on the open market and the ability to use that land as collateral to receive money loaned against its value. For example, a farmer can benefit greatly borrowing against their land, as it can allow them to purchase the goods needed to further their harvest; thus, increasing income and productivity. Unfortunately, while developed nations enjoy many of these benefits, land titling and ownership is, in fact, a very serious problem impacting many developing countries around the world — and little is being done to solve it.

Countries that don’t have formal or reliable systems in place, including recording ownership of land, are facing a growing problem. Without a trusted system providing an indisputable record of ownership, the process of exchanging, selling, insuring, or financing one’s property becomes increasingly difficult to do. Property is an extremely important asset and, with globalization, it will become even more valuable. But without proof of ownership, landowners cannot possibly utilize their property’s value to its full potential.

So, why hasn’t this problem been solved in those countries? There are many factors that go into land titling that make it difficult to implement in new regions of the world. First, there are issues with unclear ownership due to paper-based or even vocal contracts. Additionally, ownership is sometimes very unclear, inadvertently causing either double ownership or ownership of land by a community as a whole. As a result, no individual is able to have one clear formal title deed. Finally, bribes for services are prevalent where corrupt cartels may make files disappear in order to illegally acquire land.

According to The Economist, “[m]ore than two-thirds of Africa’s land is still under customary tenure, with rights to land rooted in communities and typically neither written down nor legally recognised.”

In order for the system to change, we must first begin by creating a cadastral solution that digitizes land titles onto a formal and transparent registry. This system requires all parties to provide a detailed description of legal land ownership, starting with geospatial surveys recorded in a geographic information system (GIS). Ultimately, such an infrastructure would provide reliable land data, including tenure and dimensions, to regions that have not historically had access to adequate records keeping processes. Once surveys are performed and the land recording is reliable, it’s then important to develop a registration system. This would require tasks to support ownership claims, like the collection of any paper documentation or attestations by other members of the neighborhood.

This system described above is a perfect use case of blockchain technology. Blockchain has the ability to revolutionize land registries by creating a foolproof digital ledger where information can be stored and verified by a network of trusted users. Blockchain allows a country to have a trustless and transparent system, making all records available online and eliminating many pre-existing issues.

At Everest, we’re working on an ideal solution that uses blockchain to solve many of these very problems. As many can attest, transferring property value always comes with its own set of risks, including fraud or ownership disputes. Thankfully, through Everest’s identity verification system, we can reduce the likelihood of succumbing to these vulnerabilities, empowering organizations to invest in emerging markets. Using the Everest platform, an individual’s land ownership can be registered on the blockchain by surveyors or valuers. Biometry and identity data can also be attached to the deed of ownership. Once that individual is registered with an EverID, financing for the property can be sent directly to the user’s EverWallet from the financial institution via Everchain. Land can be sold, titles can be transferred, and funds can be settled all within the Everest platform.

This is just one example of a major global issue that we are tackling at Everest. Follow our Medium to learn more, and go to https://everest.org to discover more of the issues that we are tackling to help the populations of developing countries.