Bitland, one of the first startups to use blockchain technology to create a land registry, has been named to Time Magazine’s “50 Most Genius Companies” list. Time asked its global network of correspondents to nominate businesses that are inventing the future, then evaluated candidates on originality, influence, success, and ambition. The companies are listed in alphabetical order.
Bitland, under the leadership of Ghana resident Narigamba Mwinsuubo, uses blockchain technology to create immutable public records of land ownership. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated that 90% of the land in Ghana is unregistered, providing little legal recourse to people if their land is stolen.
Once land ownership is verified by Bitland’s operatives on the ground, ownership is documented in a format that cannot be altered retroactively. The firm’s operatives work in cooperation with government officials.
Tokenization Makes Assets Tradable
Bitland creates a cryptographic token which represents the land using colored coins on the Bitcoin blockchain. Tokenization allows land, like any asset, to be used as a tradeable instrument.
The project also creates smart contracts governing purchase, lease, and rental of the assets that can be executed automatically for escrow accounts, savings accounts, wills, and shareholder contracts, according to the company’s website. Resource rights protected by land rights include water, shared wells, shared sewage, mining, community land, shared cattle, and other resources.
To create titles on the blockchain, Bitland uses GPS coordinates, a mapping system, PGP keys, and a timestamping service.
The platform currently operates in seven African nations and India. It also supports Native American communities in the United States.
Meeting A Need
Elliot Hedman, Bitland’s chief operating officer, said insecure land rights are the major factor undermining economic and socioeconomic progress in developing countries.
In addition to helping individuals and groups to survey land and record title deeds, Bitland serves as liaison with governments to resolve disputes.
The project began in 2016 with 28 communities in Kumasi, Ghana, with the intention of expanding across the African continent.
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