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An Indian state wants to use blockchain to fight land ownership fraud

  • The government of India's Andhra Pradesh state has partnered with Swedish start-up ChromaWay to build its blockchain-based solution
  • It is estimated that $700 million is being paid in bribes at land registrars across India
  • ChromaWay has already piloted a blockchain project in Sweden focused on the process of buying and selling real-estate
Prashanth Vishwanathan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

India's land ownership system is apparently fraught with fraud — so one state is exploring the application of blockchain technology to make it more transparent.

The government of Andhra Pradesh has partnered with Swedish start-up ChromaWay to build its blockchain-based solution.

Distributed ledger technology allows data to be stored in vast groupings, which are encrypted and tamper-proof. It is maintained across a network of computers around the world and has no central authority to oversee it.

"The current system is rife with corruption," J. A. Chowdary, special chief secretary & IT advisor to the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, told CNBC in an email Sunday.

It is estimated that $700 million is being paid in bribes at land registrars across India, Chowdary said.

"Fraud is rampant and disputes over titles often end up in court. Matters related to land and property make up about two-thirds of all civil cases in the country."

ChromaWay has already piloted a blockchain project in Sweden focused on the process of buying and selling real-estate. This time it wants to combine the features of a traditional land registry database with that of blockchain technology.

The technology

The blockchain trial will be built on ChromaWay's "Postchain" platform, which is a combination of blockchain technology and mature database systems.

Users interact with a web application on the front-end, and the data is processed by blockchain technology on the back-end.

"Using a new architecture combining blockchain with database, a consortium database, ChromaWay have made a registry that is transparent, resilient and secure, but also has the traditional database features necessary for a registry," ChromaWay CEO Henrik Hjelte told CNBC in an email Sunday.

Originally used as the technology to underpin bitcoin, blockchain technology is increasingly being seen as applicable for a whole range of industries.