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Proposed Texas blockchain land registry pilot might be stillborn

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Texas State bill proposes a land registry pilot that will use a public blockchain to record the ownership of real estate. The trials would also include using regulated stablecoins to pay for land or property. However, following a committee hearing yesterday, the status is ‘Left pending in committee’, which in Texas is often a euphemism for insufficient support to move forward. 

The project intended to explore the cost differences between a public blockchain land registry and a hybrid one. For the hybrid version, basic information from the deed is recorded on a public ledger, but the full document is held on a permissioned distributed ledger.

In addition to recording real estate ownership, the register would also record mortgages or liens. The pilot planned to include at least two Texas counties, one rural and one urban. A working group would provide feedback on the initiative and comprise counties, regulators, title insurance organizations, banks and the Texas Blockchain Council. 

Using blockchain for land registry is not a new concept. The UK’s HM Land Registry explored DLT for the transfer of title as far back as 2019. This year it was involved in a Bank of England project to examine the settlement of property transactions using central bank money. Without a DLT land registry, a DLT-based digital deed was introduced as a surrogate.

Some countries are interested in blockchain registries to prevent corruption. While blockchains are invariably immutable, they can’t stop false data from being added in the first place, or so-called garbage-in, garbage out.

Meanwhile, several countries, such as South Africa and India, have explored DLT-based land registries. Several projects have been with startups such as Medici Land (MexicoLiberiaRwanda and Zambia) and Chromaway (Sweden, Australia, Canada, Peru).

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