First Blockchain-based Property Registration Project Pilots in South Africa

The first-ever blockchain-based property registration project has been piloted in South Africa. Conceptualized by the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF), research consultancy 71point4 and Seso Global. The pilot will conduct in 1,000 subsidized houses in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, in Cape Town, provided by the government under the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP). These houses have not been registered on the deeds registry.

Under RDP, successive South African governments have built around 3 million houses. Many of them were not registered at the time of handing over to citizens. It deprives the government of taxes on the one hand and harms the occupants as they cannot mortgage their properties on the other.

71point4 employed volunteers who went from door to door to identify the occupants as well as their documentation. It becomes difficult for old houses as the original owner may have passed away, shifted elsewhere, or sold it to someone else. 71point4 coordinates with the government to decide ownership of such houses. The details thus collected are entered on the Seso to create an immutable record of ownership. The final goal is to integrate the blockchain-based public registry with the deeds registry.

Daniel Bloch, CEO of Seso Global, said,

Property owners will record these transactions at the Transaction Support Centre, a walk-in housing advice office created by CAHF and 71point4 located in the area. But over time, we will record transactions through the Seso app.

The use of Blockchain technology ensures the security and immutability of data. There is a single record that is visible to both the owners as well as the government. Thus, fraud is prevented. It is easy to update information in case the ownership changes hands as; the owner has to update documents on the blockchain. The government can verify the documents for authentication and update if everything is found all right.

Additionally, mortgage service providers can verify ownership of properties on the blockchain. Both the owners and the mortgage service providers will look at the same record. Hence, chances of cheating and fraud are eliminated.

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