​NSW Land Registry to trial blockchain for conveyancing

The state wants to transition completely to eConveyancing by July 1, 2019.

The New South Wales government is looking to make property conveyancing electronic, turning to distributed ledger technology as a means to make the practice cheaper, more reliable, and more secure.

The NSW Land Registry Services will be conducting a proof of concept with Stockholm-based ChromaWay, built on the startup's open source technology.

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The proof of concept is expected to be completed early next year, with the government mandating Land Registry transition completely to eConveyancing by July 1, 2019.

Under the state government directive, from the start of the new financial year, all mainstream property transactions in NSW must be lodged electronically and all paper-based Certificates of Title will be cancelled.

"Rapid and far-reaching technology change is impacting traditional approaches to land dealings registration and general business operations around the globe. NSW Land Registry Services is embracing this new world by conducting a series of targeted experiments with globally-recognised technology companies," Land Registry Services CEO Adam Bennett said.

"Blockchain and distributed ledger systems are being implemented in land jurisdictions overseas where they are already delivering significant benefits. NSW Land Registry Services is therefore working with ChromaWay to investigate and test selected use cases that might be relevant to our market."

Australian Registry Investments is the operator of New South Wales Land Registry Services, which maintains a system of land ownership for the state.

The land title registry defines the legal ownership and boundaries of land parcels throughout the state, both private and public, and records changes as they occur, starting with the examination and lodgement of plans, through to processing changes of ownership on the registry.

"The goal of the project is to provide hands-on experience with developing blockchain solutions and to let NSW [Land Registry Services] evaluate potential cybersecurity, efficiency increases, and service improvements," ChromaWay AP strategic advisor Nicholas Delaveris said. "At the same time, through the project, [Land Registry Services] will gain a deeper understanding in how this emerging technology can contribute to the smoother functioning of local and national property markets."

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According to ChromaWay, by using blockchain to underpin land registry, the state entity gains benefits in terms of maintaining the integrity and quality of its registry.

"The ChromaWay technology can facilitate transactions, provide smart contracts, and record data. This offers a superior and future-proofed approach and can contribute to lower eConveyancing costs due to increased competition in the market," the company said in a statement.

Through the use of blockchain, ChromaWay believes the data the registry holds will remain secure and immutable, while also being accessible and searchable.

"It will provide an incontrovertible chain of ownership," ChromaWay continued, touting the digital process as removing paper-based methods and duplicated work that is currently the norm.

"Furthermore, it will provide a more complete and comprehensive view of land rights, restrictions, and responsibilities, which will streamline decision-making for government and land sector actors, provide increased information transparency, and reduce data duplication."

It isn't the first state initiative to use blockchain technology, with the NSW government's digital driver's licence underpinned by distributed ledger technology.

Australian data security company Secure Logic revealed last month its platform had been used to underpin the digital service, enabling the state-wide roll-out of the digital identification play, with its tech used in both the Dubbo and the upcoming Eastern Beaches trials.

Highlighting the technology's potential application across motor registration, birth and death certificates, medical records, property titles, and HSC, TAFE, and other academic results, Secure Logic believes its platform has the potential to address many of the concerns over the digitisation of private information, in particular the federal government's contentious My Health Record.

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