From land to health records, governments are embracing blockchain

Real estate technology company Blockchain Propy now records property sales and records title and escrow documents on NFTs as well as standard blockchain transactions.

With its recently launched Title & Escrow service, the company – which sold the very first tokenized property, an apartment in Ukraine (obviously several years ago) – added the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that are best known for holding Bored Ape avatars and NBA slam dunk clips, to his toolbox.

So what’s twofold: First of all, the tokenization of real estate deeds and other documents that have been talked about for years as one of the easiest fruits to grasp in the preservation of blockchain documents is finally starting to be used.

But second, NFTs offer an advantage over just tokenizing securities and the like. While a transaction in which documents are uploaded to a blockchain is just as permanent and visible, putting them on NFTs – which display different types of media – is a more user-friendly experience.

Consider the first known title transfer, sales of a condominium in South Burlington, Vermont, recorded on the Ethereum blockchain more than three and a half years ago, in February 2018 — a year after a law making such documents enforceable.

This was also handled by Propy, whose CEO Natalia Karayaneva told TechCrunch earlier this year that it has “all the necessary smart contracts and a compatible legal framework to tokenize any real estate property in the United States.” United”.

Simplicity matters

As for the high-tech cryptographic provenance technology, it was a little disappointing: it’s just a scan of a paper, hand-signed document that has, at the end, a notice that ‘it was recorded on a smart contract, followed by a long string of letters and numbers and a QR code that allows anyone to search for that particular block via a public Ethereum blockchain explorer website.

But more than that, following this code or alphanumeric code to a public Ethereum blockchain explorer website takes you to a rather technical site that quite clearly shows a transaction record but requires a bit of know-how to extract the transfer document from actual title.

Although it’s easy to say that doesn’t really matter for a document that will primarily interest a buyer and seller, lawyers and perhaps a tax collector. And the real purpose of the technology is to ensure that documents – which must also be filed on paper – are searchable, not lost in a Statehouse fire or requiring an attorney to spend many billable hours wading through. the paper files that still record land sales across the country and around the world. Beyond that, it is securely and immutably registered on Ethereum, meaning it is registered on all of the 2,000+ Ethereum nodes spread across the globe.

However, when it comes to technology adoption, the reality is that APIs and simplicity matter.

That said, there’s a reason real estate has been the target of blockchain developers interested in bringing the technology into the industry: not only is the chain of ownership almost everywhere a mess of paperwork dating back decades, even a century or more, there’s a reason bank mortgages require a title search that can cost thousands of dollars — the law is incredibly complex.

Pain points

In 2013, a mentally ill man walked into the San Diego County Recorder’s office and, with a properly completed form, transferred control of the Padres’ baseball team’s home stadium, Petco Park, to himself.

Did he own it? Of course not. But two years later, the team was still in court trying to fix the mess, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Imagine it’s not a half-billion-dollar stadium, but a tiny house owned by someone without a lawyer, and you’ll see why some local and state governments are turning to registries. blockchain-based land and titles.

Real estate is one of 65 industries that CB Insights predicted in March could be transformed by blockchain technology.

“The weak points for buying and selling a property include a lack of transparency during and after transactions, a large amount of documentation, possible fraud and errors in public records,” he said. . “Blockchain offers a way to reduce the need for paper-based record keeping and speed up transactions, helping stakeholders improve efficiency and reduce transaction costs on all sides of the transaction.”

That’s why it has received a lot of attention in developing countries with poor land records like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, pushed by organizations like the UN and the World Bank.

Healthy growth

Another more recent use of blockchain technology for record keeping is New York State’s Excelsior Pass, a vaccine passport app created by IBM Blockchain on its Digital Health Pass app that allowed access to public places. during COVID closures. The Food and Drug Administration has

Singapore, which has embraced blockchain technology, has also created a digital health passport, which “stores issued medical certificates such as COVID-19 tests and vaccination status, which are independently verifiable,” wrote PwC in an August article on how governments around the world are experimenting with blockchain records.

Generally speaking, healthcare is one of the areas that gets the most attention from blockchain proponents because its ability to store information immutably but only give selective access to the actual records makes them ideal for information that may be needed very quickly and accurately, but also contain highly personal data.

Canada has used blockchains and the digital ledger technology on which it is based in a variety of digital ID and recordkeeping pilot projects, including its known traveler digital ID system supported by biometrics and a digital credential management system that PwC says has released a floating “draft”. employees … a digital ID that gives them a permanent, autonomous and secure record of their skills and experiences. The title is recognized and accepted in the government employment market.

There are many other areas where blockchain is being tested, from defense contracts and police records to voting records and machines.

“No matter the country, there is a government testing a blockchain pilot,” PwC wrote. “Decentralized ledger technology is used in all areas of government, from defense to healthcare.”

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