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Sweden's Land Registry Demos Live Transaction on a Blockchain

Sweden’s land registry authority and a group of participating banks, businesses and startups have completed the third phase of an ongoing blockchain pilot.

It was announced Friday that the Lantmäteriet has passed the testing checkpoint with the aid of a number of partners. These include financial firms SBAB Bank and Landshypotek, blockchain startup ChromaWay, tech consultancy Kairos Future, real estate search portal Svensk Fastighetsförmedling, telecom Telai Sverige and IT firm Evry.

The group of companies, in sum, provided different elements that, combined, formed the components of the blockchain pilot. For example, Telia and Evry helped verify a live transaction between a buyer and a seller, according to statements. A live demonstration conducted this week included client-side verification of government-approved digital signatures and the final exporting of necessary legal contracts.

Those involved with the initiative said that the smart contract which facilitated the transaction is compliant with European Union laws and regulations, including the GDPR privacy rules.

ChromaWay chief executive Henrik Hjelte said in a statement that “in a distributed environment such as a blockchain, you cannot have a central server for verifying identities, it all has to be based on signatures and verified by the user.”

Project lead Jörgen Modin added:

“Although the project uses centralized ID services, that is those approved by the government, in a blockchain environment these signatures must be put under the same scrutiny as everything else, and hence we do verify in each and every client all the way up to the root certificate.”

The project began early last year, when the Lantmäteriet authorized the partnership with ChromaWay and other firms to explore how private blockchains can carry out property transactions, as previously reported by CoinDesk.

Photo of demonstration courtesy of ChromaWay

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Swedish Government Land Registry Soon To Conduct First Blockchain Property Transaction

Sweden’s land-ownership authority, the Lantmäteriet, is soon expected to conduct their first Blockchain technology property transaction after two years of testing, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Wendesday, Mar. 7.

Lantmäteriet is currently shortlisting volunteers to participate in buying and selling property on its own Blockchain-based platform. Mats Snäll, Lantmäteriet’s chief digital officer, told the WSJ that “from the technology point of view, we are quite ready.”

Lantmäteriet first started testing Blockchain technology in 2016, completing their second stage of trials in March 2017. By July 2017, the Swedish land registry was using Blockchain to register land and properties on the Swedish Blockchain startup ChromaWay’s private Blockchain network, albeit on a “small scale,” according to Snäll.

Besides ChromaWay, the Lantmäteriet has partnered with with telecom company Telia Co. AB and consulting firm Kairos Future for the Blockchain real estate development project, the WSJ reports.

Even though according to the WSJ the Lantmäteriet already functions in a “highly digitized and paperless” system, the time from signing a contract to registering a sale can take between three to six months.

With the Blockchain system, “it could be hours,” Jörgen Modin, chief solutions architect at ChromaWay, tells the WSJ. Modin added that the buyer and seller don’t even have to be located in the country for the deal to go through.

The WSJ reports that there are still obstacles to overcome in Sweden before Blockchain can be adopted on a wide scale for real estate dealings, namely that digital signatures for registering or purchasing properties are currently illegal under Swedish law.

In September of last year, the US Nasdaq and Swedish bank SEB began testing a Blockchain-based trading platform for mutual funds.

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Bermuda Could Launch a Blockchain Land Registry

Bermuda plans to migrate its property deeds system to the blockchain, its premier said today.

As quoted by The Royal Gazette, premier David Burt remarked during an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the country was aiming to shift away from its “old school” system of recording deed information.

The Royal Gazette quoted Burt as saying:

“Bermuda has an old school deeds-based property system. What we are going to do is transfer our registry to the blockchain. Clearly it needs to be transparent so people know what’s there and be secure, and that way we know who owns what at any point in time”

Burt reportedly remarked that some segments of Bermuda’s business ecosystem – namely the legal profession – may not be fully supportive of the move. That said, according to the premier, “the thing is to make more efficiencies inside of our economy.”

The development reflects Bermuda’s continued engagement with the blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

In November, the British overseas territory set up a task force seeking to both create an appropriate regulatory environment and to support commerce utilizing these technologies in the hopes of attracting new industry and jobs. The government is also working with organizations such as Ambika Group and the Bermuda Business Development Agency on possible uses of the tech.

Bermuda flag image via Shutterstock

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Vermont City Pilots Land Registry Record With Blockchain Startup

The city of South Burlington, Vermont, is trialing a land registration system which uses blockchain as part of a system for recording ownership.

The City Clerk’s Office announced Monday that it was partnering with blockchain startup Propy to store land record management data, according to a press release. The pilot’s aim is to develop a more efficient and secure ledger for real estate transactions with an additional goal of evaluating how well using a blockchain-based platform will reduce the costs of storing land management data when compared to traditional systems.

South Burlington’s City Clerk, Donna Kinville, said the city “is always interested in taking advantage of technology that enhances its delivery of services to residents. We are ready to learn from this Propy pilot.”

The law firm Gravel & Shea, which focuses on the legal aspects of blockchain technology use cases, will also work with South Burlington and Propy on the pilot.

South Burlington is the latest government to look into using a blockchain for land registration. Previously, the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and the country of Sweden have both announced pilot projects with blockchain startups to trial their own land registration efforts.

The state of Vermont has launched several blockchain initiatives in the past, most recently with a bill proposing the regulation of companies operating or trading in cryptocurrencies. If passed, the bill would have these companies pay a tax of one cent per dollar on every transaction executed by the company.

Last year, the state created a working group to analyze the impact blockchain could have on government operations, with an initial report due last November.

Representatives from South Burlington and Vermont’s Agency for Commerce and Community Development did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

South Burlington map image via Shutterstock

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Patrick Byrne Mulls Overstock Sale to Fund New Blockchain Venture

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne has partnered with a well-known economist on a new blockchain land registry venture – and he may wind up selling the e-commerce giant in order to fund it.

The joint venture between Overstock subsidiary Medici Ventures and Hernando de Soto, named De Soto, Inc., will focus on creating a system for local property records, which will leverage the tech as a way to transfer rights while also incorporating mobile tech and social media elements.

Byrne told the Financial Times that the plan is to launch a pilot system in early 2018, adding that he feels he has “a great moral obligation to refocus my life around this.”

To that end, Byrne indicated that one funding option would be to sell Overstock, either in segments or in its entirety, and use the money as capital for the new venture.

“One of the possibilities is I sell the business and we have all the capital we need,” he said.

According to the FT, advisory firm Guggenheim Partners has been hired to help explore potential options for the sale.

One of the first major online retailers to start accepting bitcoin payments for products, Overstock has since been a notable mover in the blockchain space. The firm began moving several years ago to build its blockchain-powered securities exchange, which it used last year in part to raise $30 million in new funding.

In statements, de Soto positioned the technology behind the new venture as a means to help alleviate poverty. As reported last year, De Soto is also involved in a land registry project involving BitFury and the Georgian government.

“Billions of people have resources that cannot easily be transformed into productive capital. Blockchain is a powerful tool to solve these structural issues, which are some of the principal causes of poverty and conflict,” de Soto said of the new venture.

Patrick Byrne image via CoinDesk archives

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Russia's Government to Test Blockchain Land Registry System

The Russian government is to begin testing a blockchain-based land registry system early next year.

According to a draft resolution published by the Ministry of Economic Development, the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreetr), the Federal Tax Service and the Government of Moscow will assess the trial through July 1, 2018. The ministry will submit and release a final report on the trial by Sept. 1.

According to the translated document:

“The use of blockchain will be aimed at increasing the availability of information on the property registry, guarantees of protection of property rights, as well as the level of citizens’ trust in the sphere of turnover of real estate.”

The pilot project comes seven months after Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev asked two government ministries to begin looking into possible public-sector applications of blockchain technology.

He said at the time: “We need to analyze in general, as far as it is applicable in our governance system – and public administration, and in the economy … I instructed the relevant ministries – the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Economic Development – to consider the possibility of using these technologies in preparing the program ‘Digital Economy’.”

In a press release, Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said the high cost of operating Rosreetr made it a top choice for applying new technologies like blockchain.

Russia’s announcement follows a plethora of other national and regional governments announcing their own land-registration projects. Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom have all launched trials, along with two Brazilian municipalities and the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Russian coat of arms image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

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Indian State Partners With Blockchain Startup for Land Registry Pilot

The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is working with startup ChromaWay on a land registry pilot that uses blockchain to track the ownership of property.

The state government has been exploring a number of uses for blockchain in recent months, and in September it inked a separate partnership with startup WISekey related to identity solutions. Andhra Pradesh is one of several regional governments in India to look into applications of the tech, and land registries – systems used to keep track of who owns what property – have been highlighted by other governments worldwide as one area in which the technology could lead to improved services.

The test platform being built with Sweden-based ChromaWay is part of the Fintech Valley Vizag initiative launched by the southeast Indian state.

According to the parties involved, it utilizes a distributed ledger on the back-end and a straightforward web-app front end, which provides “radically transparent access to data,” according to ChromaWay.

J. A. Chowdary, special chief secretary and IT advisor to the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, said in a statement:

“Blockchain is the technology of the future. It will not only change the way we perceive processes but it also has the potential to transform the economy. Of course, we all are yet to fully discover this technology and hence the Government of Andhra Pradesh has engaged with startups from across the globe such as Chromaway to run proofs of concept within its own departments.”

The project represents the latest public sector partnership for ChromaWay. Sweden’s land registry authority, the Lantmäteriet, revealed in April that it is working with the startup on a land registry initiative. Other participants in that effort include banks SBAB and Landshypotek, as well as the consultancy Kairos Future.

Image via Shutterstock.com.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at [email protected].