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.