Blockchain and International Development: Can Blockchain Technology be the Solution to Effective Land Registration Systems in Developing Nations?

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 9, Issue 1 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

Blockchain technology (BT), the technology that underpins the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin, is a secure, decentralized, and distributed online ledger that records and stores information accurately. A blockchain is public, transparent, and immutable. Everyone can inspect but no one controls it; it does not require a central authority like a government agency or bank to manage transactions. While the mania surrounding Bitcoin and competing cryptocurrencies has alarmed many observers who are worried about market volatility and staying power, BT is predicted to become widely adopted in an ever-broadening range of private and public transactions. This article explores the emerging application of BT to land registration in places governed by customary law and practices where determining who owns land and property is not practically possible or feasible today. If the applications can scale up sufficiently to serve large segments of a country or region under customary land tenure, BT provides a path out of poverty for individual landowners and the opportunity to bolster a country’s economy by freeing up huge amounts of previously locked capital and allowing land to be used as collateral for lending, bought and sold, and taxation.

Find the full version of this article in PDF form here.