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Blockchain can help combat fraud in the conveyancing sector

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The excellent two-part blog “Conveyancers beware!” by Richard Mathias got me thinking about what else could be done in the future to help avoid the damaging criminal and fraud cases taking place in the conveyancing sector.

One of the hot topics these days is bitcoin and the blockchain. There are plenty of excellent resources out there, which explain in detail how this technology works so I won’t try to cover this. However, one thing that is not always clear in these resources is what possible benefits this technology can offer?

Putting aside the scaremongering associated with Silk Road, blockchain technology could actually provide a great way to significantly reduce the risk of conveyancing fraud. After all, at their core, blockchains are simply an immutable ledger, a way of securely recording and validating all sorts of information.

The banking industry has already started to embrace this technology, using it as a trusted way to automatically validate the other parties (banks) in a transaction and make the transaction happen based on mutually agreed rules.

However, countries like Honduras and parts of West Africa are already starting to investigate the technology and indeed move their land registry on to the blockchain to enable greater public access and prevent fraud.

Shouldn’t we do the same in the UK? Such a solution would guard against anyone being able to falsely claim ownership of a property or direct a party to pay funds to an unconnected and incorrect bank account.

This is something that would undoubtedly benefit everyone involved in the conveyancing process, as an insulator from risk, but also by enabling significantly faster transaction times.

With the assurance of immutability, checks on ownership, of availability of funds, of completion of Home Information Packs (should they return), all could be done in minutes and automatically, removing the need for lengthy email threads and voicemail messages.

So what next?

Well, as a technology provider, we at LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions will be continuing to investigate how to make best use of blockchain solutions as well as provide guidance and support to the conveyancing market.

However, what we and the industry as a whole need is consensus on what information and rules should be used by solutions such as this. This is therefore a great opportunity for all the players in the conveyancing market to come together and drive a change that will impact every prospective property owner/seller in the country.

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