Evaluating the use of blockchain in land transactions: An archival science perspective

Victoria L. Lemieux

Land transaction records are among the most important records a society generates. Indeed, economist Hernando de Soto argues that they are the foundation of modern society.3 Given their significance to individuals and society as a whole, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that land transaction records are created and kept in a manner that provides for their long-term availability, evidentiary quality, and management in compliance with the law. Without proper handling and care of land transaction records, transparency, public accountability, financial stability and human rights may be at risk. Blockchain is a new technology that has the potential to radically alter the recording of land titles and ownership transfers. Pilot projects on the application of this technology are being conducted or considered in Brazil, the Republic of Georgia, Ghana, India, Japan, and Sweden to name just a few jurisdictions. Proponents of blockchain’s use for land transaction recordkeeping point to its many advantages. In a recent paper, Avi Spielman has written that, “The research to date leads to the following conclusions: A blockchain title recording system is [emphasis in original work] the future of title record keeping and would provide immediate benefits over the current title recording system . . . Among the advantages cited for using blockchain technology for land transaction recording are: increased processing efficiencies that reduce the cost of land transaction processing reduction in errors during the recording process prevention of title fraud added levels of security, auditability and transparency data archiving and lower levels of vulnerability to natural or man-made disasters.”

Event: Land Governance in an Interconnected World_Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty_2018

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