HM Land Registry has taken a further step towards fully automating the conveyancing process by announcing a partnership with a software company to explore the potential of blockchain technology.  

Blockchain, best known for enabling Bitcoin and other ‘virtual currencies’, is a computer encryption system which secures information by spreading records of transactions across a constantly updated ‘shared ledger’, removing the need for a central database. This in turn creates the possibility of self-executing ‘smart contracts’. 

Land registration bodies in the Netherlands and Sweden have already announced tests of the technology to secure registration data. Dubai has begun registering all government land transactions on a blockchain. 

HM Land Registry’s exploration of the technology is through its research and development initiative Digital Street, which aims to understand ’how the innovative use of technology, such as blockchain, distributed ledgers and smart contracts, could revolutionise the land registration and property buy-sell process’. The project has already created a digital register for a small selection of properties, which is a first step towards establishing a register that is fully machine-readable and able to be updated instantly. In the next phase, software supplier Methods will work with the Corda blockchain platform from R3. 

Graham Farrant, chief executive of HM Land Registry, said: ’Our ambition to become the world’s leading land registry for speed, ease of use and an open approach to data requires HM Land Registry to be at the forefront of global innovation in land registration. By working with Methods on Digital Street we are taking another step toward that goal, as we explore how new technologies like blockchain can help us to develop a faster, simpler and cheaper land registration process.’