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NYC explores blockchain to reduce deed fraud

New York City’s Department of Finance is working to develop a blockchain proof-of-concept that would make data in property documents transparent and immutable and detect and reduce deed fraud.

Working with Medici Land Governance (MLG), the Finance Department will explore the feasibility of using the technology to record property documents, which is currently recorded and maintained in the city’s Automated City Register Information System. For the proof of concept, MLG will use its Actum public records product to develop a parallel service that simulates the recording of 500,000 records on the blockchain. The blockchain records will be accessible through a Department of Finance-specific user interface where they will be tested for accuracy.

The project aims to demonstrate blockchain’s ability to improve security by reducing chances of intentional and possibly unnoticed fraud, limiting potential attack vectors and increasing transparency, MLG officials said in a press statement. If successful, they said, the proof-of-concept “could lead to a pilot project which will provide in-depth discovery, prototyping, and user testing of operational efficiency improvements for current business processes and solutions for the prevention of deed fraud.”

“Blockchain technology has the potential to revamp how property documents are recorded in New York City and help prevent deed fraud,” DOF Commissioner Sherif Soliman said.

The program also establishes a foundation for broader blockchain use by the city, MLG officials said.

 Wyoming’s Teton and Carbon Counties have moved their land titles to MLG’s blockchain-based land record and information platform to ensure immutability of records and clear chains of title.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Medici Ventures, Overstock.com's wholly-owned blockchain accelerator, has public-sector customers in Africa, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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