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HM Land Registry completes blockchain trial

HM Land Registry’s blockchain project is part of a wider digital transformation initiative which aims to simplify and speed up the process of buying and selling property

HM Land Registry (HMLR) has successfully completed a trial that used a prototype developed with blockchain technology to buy property.

The trial, which involved the sale of a semi-detached house in Gillingham, Kent, was intended to show how buying and selling a home could be made simpler and quicker by demonstrating a digital transfer of ownership.

The pilot was part of a research and development project known as Digital Street. Now in its second year, the project is exploring the use of blockchain technology and smart contracts to increase transparency, speed and trust in property transactions.

Developed using software company Methods and a platform from consortium R3, known as Corda, the blockchain trial involved stakeholders across the property market, including law firm Mishcon de Reya, Premier Property Lawyers, Shieldpay and Yoti.

“It is clear that, as it stands currently, real estate transactions are too slow. This affects buyers and sellers, particularly where transactions fail or are abandoned and at great cost,” said chief strategy officer at Mishcon de Reya, Nick West.

“Technology, and especially blockchain, coupled with improved data management has a huge part to play in revolutionising this process. What’s exciting here is that this is a real-world application of blockchain technology in our legal market,” he added.

“If we can turn this proof of concept into reality it will be of significant benefit to anyone buying or selling real estate assets in the UK”
Nick West, Mishcon de Reya

“If we can turn this proof of concept into reality it will be of significant benefit to anyone buying or selling real estate assets in the UK.”

In addition, HM Land Registry provided an update of its “Sign your mortgage deed” service. One year on from the signing of the UK’s first digital mortgage deed, major high street lenders are using the service, including Nationwide, HSBC, RBS, NatWest and Atom Bank.

More people are applying for their mortgages using paperless processes, according to Land Registry, with its digital service bringing the sector “one step closer to an end-to-end paperless process”.

To use the digital mortgage service, borrowers use Gov.uk platform Verify to confirm their identity. HMLR pointed out that the service “provides an additional level of identity assurance that does not exist when signing a paper deed”, as well as additional security because the document is held on its IT infrastructure.

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