Brazil pilots Bitcoin solution for real estate registration

Ubitquity LLC recently launched to a pilot project in Brazil, recording real estate ownership on the Bitcoin blockchain. The Delaware-based startup runs a platform that secures the records using Colu's colored coins protocol.

A land records bureau in Brazil wants to move away from paper based-records, migrating to fully computer-based recordkeeping, for various reasons including easier access, higher accuracy, better scalability and transparency.

Every real estate transaction in Brazil must register through a Cartório de Registro de Imóveis (Real Estate Registry Office). While the process is overseen by the government, they provide exclusive contracts to private companies for record management.

- Ubitquity LLC Founder and President, Nathan Wosnack

Ubitquity has been developing its real estate platform since September 2015. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform allows the real estate industry and government departments to record, and use public records. The blockchain solution tackles several use cases, from title registrations to tracking forgeries.

The company tested their platform for the first time in June 2016, by recording the first property ownership transfer in Norfolk, Virginia. The following March, Ubitquity’s current alpha software was used to record the first Canadian property on a blockchain.

“Keeping property records -- one of the most important documents a person holds -- on the blockchain is important in developing markets such as Brazil,” Ubitquity LLC Founder and President, Nathan Wosnack, said in the announcement. “The blockchain allows ownership and title disputes to be handled in a fair and transparent fashion, and serves as a backup in case the original is destroyed or misplaced.”

The Ubitquity platform has a straightforward, tabbed interface which lets users input and transfer records, permanently recording changes after each save to the blockchain through Colu.

Brazil Blockchain Property registration

The pilot project is already underway. A doctor’s house in the southern city of Pelotas that was entered on March 30, 2017. The address information was given to Ubitquity as a test by the real estate registry office, and many more have been added since, both from the major city Pelotas and the nearby, more rural municipality of Morro Redondo.

- Wosnack

Ubitquity has also been working towards helping define ISO standards technologies (ISO/TC307) for blockchain real estate use, in conjunction with the Blockchain@UBC (University of British Columbia) project. According to Wosnack, Blockchain@UBC has been “leading the way on the ISO standard research and collaboration.”

Bitland has also been working on the ISO/TC307 initiative, and provides a similar land registration platform focuses on the African market. The platform is now in beta testing, and offers self-service systems including aerial mapping for the more remote areas. The company opted to use OpenLedger to store the records, and hopes to complete the beta by Q3 of 2017.

Blockchain based property ownership was first tackled in 2015, when Factom announced a similar plan to put land titles on the Bitcoin blockchain in Honduras. Unfortunately, the plan stalled in December 2015.

In the meantime, an Estonian blockchain startup company, Chromaway, struck a deal with venture fundraising giant Funderbeam to begin doing a similar project in Sweden. The startup aims to perfect the process of registering real estate on a blockchain, including the use of smart contracts. ChromaWay recently signed up several more investors and finished its second pilot testing phase.

“We are delighted to announce the conclusion of the second phase of the real estate project, in which we successfully piloted our technology in a test environment. Now we are looking forward to developing the project further in the next phase.”

- Henrik Hjelte, ChromaWay