Bitland Global, a blockchain start-up based in Kumasi Ghana has been identified and recognized by Time Magazine in its latest 2018 report on the 50 Most Genius Companies.
Headed by Ghanaian resident Narigamba Mwinsuubo, Bitland seeks to use blockchain technology to provide immutable public records on land ownership and titles (i.e., provenance.)
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), more than 90% of land in Ghana lacks proper documentation about the owners and current occupants. Interestingly, this problem plagues a majority of African countries and Bitland seeks to help correct the problem.
In order to be featured on the list, companies and startups had to be nominated through a global network of Time magazine subscribers and agents. Once the initial list is created, Time had to analyze the nominations based on the originality of their innovations, the influence of the businesses or their leaders, their success so far and the level of ambition of the projects. The magazine then reports their rankings in a alphabetical order.
One of the leading economic challenges facing developing countries is the lack of provenance, especially in land registries. The effect of such as scenario is that a lot of land capital is locked up without the means to use it for economic improvement.
Institutions such as financial institutions require title deeds as security for affording their customers loans. Therefore if most of the land is undocumented, means most of it will not be used for instances such as securing loans. Having documents for land owned is also beneficial as legal recourse can be afforded to landowners who may be subject to land theft or misappropriation.
How does Bitland work?
Bitland has formed a cooperation with local government agencies to accurately and formally identify landowners and their land specifications. Once information on a given piece of land has been collected, it gets recorded to the blockchain providing an immutable record of evidence on ownership.
Bitland employs four processes to accurately create records of land ownership: a GPS coordinate, mapping system, Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) keys and a time-stamping service.
Bitland was founded in 2016 and has since expanded from its Ghanaian roots to cover as many as seven African countries, part of India and has even found application in some native communities in the United States.
The start-up has plans to expand across the African continent and beyond. Bitland COO Elliot Hedman says that “Land rights are the foundation of a country,” he also adds “the biggest thing that’s holding back developing countries from jumping onto the world stage economically and socioeconomically is insecure land.”
Bitland’s process involves creating a cryptographic token that will represent the land under record. These tokens will be colored and to represent different pieces of land. These records will then be placed on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Once the records are availed on the blockchain, owners of that piece will be able to use the record on the blockchain as a tradable instrument. The added benefit of this startup is that it effectively eliminates the land title search industry which has been long, costly and time-consuming. Searching for property on the blockchain is instant and free.