In­dia's blockchain rev­o­lu­tion goes be­yond banks


With dig­i­tal adop­tion gain­ing trac­tion in In­dia, blockchain tech­nol­ogy has caught the fancy of many. While blockchain tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to see sus­tained sup­port from In­dian banks, state gov­ern­ments and pri­vate com­pa­nies are in­creas­ingly ex­plor­ing blockchain for im­proved gov­er­nance, en­hanc­ing ef­fi­ciency of busi­ness pro­cesses, and en­sur­ing trans­parency.

Blockchain tech­nol­ogy be­gan gain­ing promi­nence in the coun­try fol­low­ing the emer­gence of bit­coin. While the le­gal­ity and ve­rac­ity of cryp­tocur­ren­cies is be­ing de­bated in In­dia, tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies have be­gun shift­ing fo­cus to the util­ity of blockchain tech­nol­ogy. Specif­i­cally, In­dian banks have been ex­per­i­ment­ing with blockchain tech­nol­ogy by de­vel­op­ing in-house Proof-ofCon­cept projects. Ac­cord­ing to a PwC re­port, 56% of In­dian busi­nesses are in­clined to make blockchain a part of their core busi­ness, and three key ar­eas that the tech­nol­ogy will im­pact are pay­ments and funds trans­fer in­fra­struc­ture, dig­i­tal iden­tity man­age­ment and post-trade set­tle­ments.

How­ever, the al­lure of a dis­trib­uted ledger sys­tem is ex­tend­ing well be­yond the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor. Specif­i­cally, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of blockchain in prop­erty trans­ac­tions would be revo­lu­tion­ary in In­dia. Land ti­tles in In­dia do not guar­an­tee an owner his com­plete rights. More­over, prop­erty trans­ac­tions are done on pa­per and not up­dated very of­ten, lead­ing to innumerable prop­erty dis­putes. Ac­cord­ing to a pa­per pub­lished by PRS Leg­isla­tive Re­search, the pace of bring­ing land records on­line has been slow, and a move to­wards con­clu­sive land titling has been pro­posed, which in­volves migrating to an or­ga­nized, per­haps dig­i­tized method, of chron­i­cling land records in In­dia.

This is where blockchain tech­nol­ogy could play a de­fin­i­tive role, le­gal ex­perts be­lieve. Rahul Matthan, part­ner at Tri­le­gal, one of In­dia's largest law firms that ser­vices mul­ti­ple in­dus­tries in­clud­ing bank­ing and real es­tate, says, "Land records, like any other reg­istry in In­dia, are cen­tral­ized and main­tained in the of­fice of the sub-reg­is­trar.

It is pos­si­ble that the con­tents of these papers could be al­tered or tam­pered. If land doc­u­ments are stored on a dis­trib­uted ledger, it will be im­pos­si­ble to tam­per with them."

While the In­dian gov­ern­ment has re­newed its in­ter­est in dig­i­tiz­ing land records through the Dig­i­tal In­dia Land Records Mod­ern­iza­tion Pro­gramme (DILRMP), the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a dis­trib­uted ledger first to dig­i­tize ex­ist­ing land records and set the prece­dent for fu­ture trans­ac­tions en­sures a le­git­i­mate, gov­ern­ment-ap­proved record of trans­ac­tions.

Matthan says, "The op­por­tu­nity to build a layer of tech­nol­ogy on top of an ex­ist­ing reg­istry is im­mense. It al­lows one to per­form tasks like au­dits with ease and speed. Since per­sonal data can be en­crypted, the iden­tity of the buyer or the seller can be kept con­fi­den­tial. The fu­ture of prop­erty trans­ac­tions lies in smart con­tracts, which are au­to­mated and don't re­quire an in­ter­me­di­ary."

Andhra Pradesh chief min­is­ter Chan­drababu Naidu is spear­head­ing blockchain tri­als in his state and has al­ready ini­ti­ated pi­lot projects in the trans­port and land reg­istry de­part­ments. The use of blockchain for land deal­ings ties into the larger man­date of e-gov­er­nance in In­dia.

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