By NATARIO McKENZIE
Blockchain technology could provide the solution for an efficient digitised land registry according to a Bahamian blockchain entrepreneur and attorney, adding that it could make land more accessible to Bahamians and residents, simplify land transactions and transform the crown land application process.
Marvin Coleby, a native Bahamian and co-founder of Raise, a blockchain firm building an investment platform for funding businesses and social responsibility initiatives told Tribune Business that blockchain technology is a data structure that enables identifying and tracking transactions digitally and sharing this information across a distributed network of computers, and could be a solution to improving this nation’s inefficient land registration system. The Bahamas has ranked among the world’s worst when it comes to the ease of registering property. There have been repeated calls over the years to implement an effective land registry.
“Blockchain enables us to create permanent, digital and incorruptible evidence of any asset – this includes land titles. Right now, our outdated paper-based land titles system creates a situation where Bahamians are losing land everyday, courts are clogged with cases, people are vulnerable to fraudulent conveyances and generational family land is not transferred. Fixing our land registry is not easy, but the least complicated approach is to start using blockchain to register clean and new titles. To do this, we would create digital versions of titles to register them on a blockchain system where they will permanently exist and are protected from fraud. The technology takes a few days to create and title registration is immediate. Thereafter, we can work our way backwards to dealing with disputed land. There is no reason the Bahamas cannot be spearhead the use of this technology, allowing the nation to be ahead of most developed nations,” said Coleby.
He added: “If we can successfully create a digitised land registry, anybody could do their own title searches from their smartphone, the government could reduce administrative costs and we can efficiently redistribute land around the country. With a digital blockchain land registry, we could entirely stamp out fraudulent conveyances and more efficiently process transactions. An accessible land system is one of the most important keys to the development of The Bahamas."
Coleby said that blockchain could also be used to establish a more efficient system for applying for crown land. “Right now the Crown Land application process could take years, if you’re even fortunate enough to get a response. Land titles built with blockchain means that title searches and conveyances for Crown Land applications could take seconds, instead of years. This can be an important use of the technology and can be used to encourage development in Family Islands,” said Coleby. Establishing a digital process for crown land applications could reduce the process down to seconds.
“Land is any family’s most important resource, it always has been. We have a chance to transform The Bahamas with a technology to make land more accessible to every Bahamian.”
Coleby noted that he is not the only Bahamian who sees blockchain’s potential for providing solutions to some of this nation’s challenges around the ease of doing business. Bahamians both inside and outside of the country are working on solving many of these issues.