Digital Street explores how emerging technology can be used to improve the land registry system. Methods was brought in after a tender that attracted 22 applicants.
The Digital Street project has already created a digital register for a small selection of properties, which is a first step towards establishing a register that is fully machine-readable and able to be updated instantly.
Last year the Land Registry, which safeguards land and property ownership worth in excess of £4 trillion said in its 2017 – 2022 business plan that it aims to digitalise 95 percent of daily transactions by 2022.
It currently handles over 120,000 service requests every day, the majority of which are requests for information, with the aim of providing a three-day turnaround, and already has automation levels of over 80 percent.
HM Land Registry Exploration
John Reynolds Innovation & Delivery Director at Blockchain Digital told Computer Business Review: “In this phase of the project, we are experimenting on Corda which is a blockchain platform originally designed for financial services; its a private, permissioned platform with high privacy, security and scalability and its open source”
“In terms of scaling because Corda is point-to-point as opposed to broadcast like other blockchains, it is highly scalable.”
R3 describes Corda, arguably not a blockchain in the strictest sense, as a “decentralised database platform designed and built from the ground up for the recording and automation of legal agreements between identiﬁable parties.”
A recently updated non-technical whitepaper notes that Corda “allows arbitrarily-precise time-bounds to be specified in transactions (which must be attested to by a trusted timestamper) rather than relying on the time at which a block happens to be mined. This is important given that many contract types we envisage supporting require precision in timing and because our primary consensus implementations use block-free conflict resolution algorithms.”
R3 adds: “It should be noted that Corda does not utilise Proof of Work or
have a concept of ‘mining’.”
A technical whitepaper meanwhile emphasises: “A distributed ledger is ultimately just a shared database, albeit one with some unique features. The following features are therefore highly desirable for improving the productivity of app developers:
• Ability to store private data linked to the semi-public data in the ledger.
• Ability to query the ledger data using widely understood tools like SQL.
• Ability to perform joins between entirely app-private data (like customer
notes) and ledger data.
• Ability to define relational constraints and triggers on the underlying tables.
• Ability to do queries at particular points in time e.g. midnight last night.
• Re-use of industry standard and highly optimised database engines.
• Independence from any particular database engine, without walling off too
many useful features
John Reynolds of Blockchain Digital told us that: “There is no view that we are replacing the central land register with a blockchain, the central register will remain the single source of truth/record of ownership.”
“What we are exploring is how DLT and smart contracts can make the interactions between banks, solicitors, land registry and even tax simpler, faster and cheaper during the end to end buy/ sell process; so a situation where a public key loss results in a loss of property would not occur.”