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How Blockchain Technology Can Streamline Transfers of Land Ownership

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Blockchain technology land ownership

Many Kenyans rely on brokers and advocates when it comes to the transfer of land title deeds due to the tedious amount of paperwork and long queues they have to deal with otherwise. The result is that most advocates or brokers end up taking advantage of the situation by charging high fees with some transactions even being rather unscrupulous. However, if planned blockchain technology adoption by Kenya gets the green light, things could change for the better as a blockchain-based process can create transparency by linking an individual’s details with his or her land or any other property they own.

The Blockchain is an immutable distributed digital ledger that is used to record and process transactions across a decentralised web of computers. Land records stored using the technology will thus be void of fraudulent editing, human error, and deletion.

The use of blockchain technology in resolving land registry issues will put Kenya on the map together with developed countries that are already utilising the technology for its endless benefits. This also comes at a time when leaders in the technology industry have been researching on the use of blockchain technology beyond digital currencies.

Transparency in Land Ownership and Transfers

In December 2016, the Kenyan government issued a statement saying they were piloting the use of the technology to keep track of land transactions and educational data according to BusinessDaily.

“This will not only increase security but will also help fight corruption by distributing the maintenance of records to all parties involved, rather than to a few. By allowing participants to see who owns, sells, and divides land, the technology will enhance verification and transparency,” said the Technical Manager, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Mr Lyford-Smith.

The institute is an accountant’s body based in the United Kingdom and is a pioneer member of the Chartered Accountants Worldwide and the Global Accounting Alliance. The institute stated that blockchain technology can boost coherence in land registry.

In the latest report released by Blockchain and the Future of Accountancy, the institute believes that land registration can gain from the technology, particularly in the history and transfer of proprietary rights of property.

Mr. Lyford-Smith went on to add,

“The technology can create a clear and permanent record of ownership and transfer of ownership, which can facilitate additional liquidity in the economy.”

The report cited examples of the use of blockchain technology to digitise title deeds and minimise property fraud that were done in Sweden, Georgia, and Honduras. In Honduras for instance, the report highlights how corruption can be a thing of the past by use of the blockchain to issue land title deeds that are free from any human edits while the government of Georgia has partnered with BitFury to develop a blockchain-based network for land registration. Bringing it closer home to Africa, Bitland, a Ghanaian-based startup, is also making use of blockchain technology to provide land registry services.

Ending an Era of Fraudulent Brokers and Advocates

Land cartels have for a long time now been conning unsuspecting Kenyans. Many experts feel the Kenyan government should emulate the countries that are already utilising the blockchain as most Kenyans have lost trust in the purity of title deeds and security of tenure.

The report by ICAEW indicates that the process of land registry on the blockchain would begin by tokenising the land in question. This means each portion of land will have a representation created that showcases it as a digital asset recorded on the blockchain after which each landowner will have the right tokens issued to them. While the benefits of blockchain technology are massive and beneficial, the report observes that the change process is no small task based on the complexity of the existing structures.

The Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning recently upgraded its electronic management system so as to fasten the transaction process. This means that Kenyan citizens will now need to make use of the e-citizen platform to pay for all the necessary duties and fees online.

“For your land to be listed on the ‘manage property’ page, you are required to validate it with your local land registry with your original title or certificate of lease, your original Identity Card (ID) and Kenya Revenue Authority pin during working hours,” mentioned Nicholas Muraguri, Lands principal secretary.

Kenya, being an economic giant in the East African region, will gain a lot by implementing the land registry process using blockchain technology and can join countries like Ghana and Rwanda that are already making use of the technology to digitise their land registry process.

Blockchain Technology

IBM and Twiga Foods Partner to Offer a Blockchain-Enabled Microcredit Solution

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Blockchain-enabled Microcredit

IBM Research in partnership with Twiga Foods announced a new microcredit solution that is now ready for rollout following an eight-week pilot. The pilot saw the two companies utilise the blockchain-based financing system to process 220 loans to recipients with the average lending amount of approximately $30 per recipient. The loans were for four to eight days with a one and two percent interest rate respectively.

The solution came about when Twiga Foods – a mobile-based supply platform for Africa’s retail outlets, kiosks, and market stalls – was looking to expand its logistics services into a total market ecosystem by adding financial services for its customers.

Grant Brooke, Twiga Foods Co-Founder said, “Previously, we were focused on helping farmers distribute bananas, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to 2,600 kiosks across Kenya, but we soon realized that we could help them sell even more produce with access to working capital. It’s simple, if the food vendors can sell more, we can distribute more, growing both of our businesses.”

Twiga Foods begun working with IBM Research in Nairobi late last year to establish a blockchain-enabled finance lending platform that could foretell a vendor’s credit score. Isaac Markus, a researcher on the inclusive financial services group at IBM Research in Kenya, said: “We analysed purchase records from a mobile device and then apply machine learning algorithms to predict creditworthiness, in turn giving lenders the confidence they need to provide microloans to small businesses. Once the credit score is determined, we used a blockchain, based on the Hyperledger Fabric, to manage the entire lending process from application to receiving offers to accepting the terms to repayment.”

Benefits of the Blockchain-based Microlending Platform

With the blockchain, the lending process is transparent to all parties involved. Blockchains are immutable which helps in reducing fraud since no one person can add to the blockchain without agreement from the entire network. Also, blockchains can make use of smart contracts that are executable in real-time, therefore, reducing the time it takes for loans to be manually processed and issued. The technology will also help address the financial woes that informal and small businesses encounter when looking for cash to re-invest in their businesses.

The eight-week pilot saw the loan order size increase by 30 percent with each retailer having an average of a six percent increase in their profit. All 220 loans were executed through mobile phones and deposited directly towards the businesses’ working capital. If a retailer had an order delivered, they would then get an SMS with loan options that they could use to finance the order. The retailer would then respond to the SMS confirming the loan option they wanted.

“We had several iterations of the platform based on feedback from the retailers. The SMS-based solution provided an effective channel for a diverse set of users, some with limited IT literacy, to access financing for their orders,” stated Andrew Kinai, the lead software engineer on the project at IBM Research.

Following the successful pilot phase, the platform will first be rolled out to traders in Nairobi and then target SMEs across Africa by the end of 2018 with expansion into new sectors.

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IBITx Launches New African Brand to Focus on Blockchain Incubation

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IBITx

IBITX Software Inc., a cryptocurrency exchange service and crowdsale software provider, has launched its new African brand called AFRIBITx.com. The company aims to position itself as an incubator for the development of blockchain concepts and companies in Africa.

A New Blockchain Incubator for Africa

IBITx is a digital currency exchange that matches investors with token sales on a single platform for ‘offerings’ as well as a free market trading system for all aftermarket cryptocurrency purchases and sales.

In a company press release, IBITx CEO Rose Marie D. Araos said:

“Our intention is to launch in partnership with a financial service provider a regulated environment in at least 2-8 African countries to start ideally by June 2018. The system’s skeletal structure is available for testing, however, we are still endeavouring to negotiate with regulated brokers and regulatory organisations as to which country will house the first African blockchain incubator, exchange, and crowdsale system.”

The new brand, AFRIBITx aims to become the exchange, crowdsale, and blockchain incubator brand for Africa. IBITx Software will harness its talent pool of blockchain developers in Philippines, India and South Africa with the objective of developing cryptocurrencies and decentralised technologies across the African continent.

The company also plans to put in place revenue sharing partnerships with local brokers, which will see them handle management and custody of the various local markets.

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Blockchain Technology

South African Startup Vio Digital Launches Blockchain-Powered Money Transfer App

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Vio Digital

Vio Digital, a South African fintech startup, is launching an Ethereum blockchain-powered money transfer app that will go live in May 2018.

Vio Digital is offering a new form of international money transfer that enables people to transfer money from anywhere in the world with zero transfer and exchange fees. Moreover, Vio Digital has not set a foreign exchange markup, which translates to affordable money transfers for users. Vio Digital, therefore, eliminates the price barrier that Africans in the diaspora face when sending money back home.

“For people sending money home to their families, additional processing and admin costs can be crippling. Our app uses technology to give people safer and more convenient ways to move their money. Technology like the blockchain means we can take cost out of the system to give people cheaper ways to move their money,” Praga Govender, CEO and founder of Vio Digital, stated.

Vio Digital held its initial coin offering from February 19 to 2 March 2, 2018, where the startup managed to raise approximately $1.2 million in ETH.

How Does the App Work?

The startup’s app is currently available in the Google Play Store and will initially be available in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon. To use the app all you need to do is download it and register your account by completing the KYC process. You will then receive a Vio wallet address, which you will use to make money transfers.

The next step is topping up your wallet by buying Vio tokens using Visa or Mastercard. Once you have done that, you can send or receive money. To cash out, convert the Vio tokens into your local currency and then transfer the amount to your linked Visa Debit card through Visa Direct. The Vio app also features a transaction history to keep track of your transfers, exchanges, and top-ups.

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