by Evan Sixtin
After announcing a partnership in April 2016 with Bitcoin mining company, Bitfury Group, to design a blockchain land registry pilot with the Republic of Georgia's National Agency of Public Registry (NAPR), a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed to expand the offering of services.
Interestingly, Sweden announced it would launch a testnet for managing their nation's real estate with smart contracts and blockchain technology in March 2017, partnering with ChromaWay to build their pilot.
Both countries, Sweden and Georgia, are hoping to make their mark in history by becoming the first nations to offer their citizens the means to execute official actions in real estate by way of blockchain technology.
Georgia has stated that the Bitfury system will use the combination of a private blockchain and the Bitcoin public blockchain to store property records securely. Sweden, on the other hand, has not yet announced which blockchain will be used with ChromaWay's system, but they have explained that the technology allows smart contracts to be used with any underlying blockchain, be it Bitcoin, Ethereum, or a private network.
So the race is on between Georgia and Sweden. Bitfury chief communications officer Jamie Smith said one of the advantages of the collaborative pilot for Bitfury was the strength of Georgia's already existing software, "You want to be in a situation, especially in these pilots, to put the best systems on (blockchain technology)."
Georgia was named by the World Bank as one of the top three countries for simple property registration and among the top 20 countries for ease of conducting business because of its transparent and user-friendly property and business registration methods.
Tea Tsulukiani, Georgia’s Minister of Justice, affirmed, "The Ministry of Justice of Georgia is the leading ministry in the field of new technologies in terms of e-government, together with two other colleague ministries. We will be able to work with Blockchain technology from this summer to place real estate extracts in a totally safe and innovative system."
Bitfury and the Georgian NAPR have already built the software and tested it on more than 20 land title registrations. The new MOU will expand services to offer the following capabilities; to register new land titles, demolition of property, mortgages, and rentals, to conduct purchases and sales of land titles, and to do notary services. Bitfury eventually plans to also add notary services and smart contracts for escrow and other services.
The advantages of a blockchain-based land registry system are obvious and numerous. Besides offering a cryptographically secure platform for maintaining and updating records, blockchain technology provides a much greater level of efficiency and ease of use. Records are time-stamped, and changes are transparent and easily verified. All documentation entered into a blockchain system is immutable and cannot be lost or corrupted due to natural disasters, fascist regimes, or any fraud.
For the users, blockchain technology provides the ability to buy or sell a property within a user-friendly smartphone app that will make all the traditional red tape vanish like magic, streamlining the process. You can try out a demo of ChromaWay's smartphone app here.
Besides the Georgia-Bitfury and Sweden-ChromaWay partnerships, Honduras was working with Factom to pilot a blockchain land registry project, until the project stalled due to political friction. Furthermore, Cook County, located in Chicago, USA, is currently working with a company called Veloz to implement their system for registering property on a blockchain technology platform.
In these times when many citizens have lost confidence in their respective governments’ ability to effectively govern without corruption, intimidation, and manipulation, the efforts of the countries as mentioned earlier toward transparency, efficiency, and simplicity are commendable. Valery Vavilov, CEO of Bitfury, disclosed that their software is currently in beta but should be fully operational in 2017.