Blockchain contract – a first for conveyancing firm

An online conveyancer has claimed that it has completed the first digital property exchange using blockchain contracts.

Wiltshire-based Clicktopurchase.com claims that it was able to help a client progress from initial marketing to a verified online exchange within just seven days.

According to the firm, the buyer’s offer was submitted on 5 October and the offer was accepted that same day, with the subsequent exchange of contracts completed via blockchain in a matter of seconds.

Many people are familiar with blockchain’s role as the enabler of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. At its heart, blockchain is simply a digital database or ledger of recorded information.

Where blockchain differs from traditional ledgers is the ability to access more than one – and often thousands – of identical copies, at the same time from anywhere in the world.

As a user changes or updates a piece of information, all other copies of the ledger are automatically updated. There is no central server and the technologies used to code and validate the stored information make cyber-attacks difficult.

So called ‘smart contracts’ often use blockchain technology. Although not officially ‘contracts’ in the legal sense, they are a highly efficient method of performing an automated task following a pre-determined set of circumstances, for example a smart contract can be coded to automatically pay ticket holders compensation if their train is late.

However, it is believed that this is the first instance of blockchain being used to facilitate the conveyancing process.

In a recent blog, Clicktopurchase.com’s Chief Executive, Neil Singer, said that the use of blockchain was “an extremely interesting development for the property industry as a whole.”

He also questioned the future role of HM Land Registry saying: “If you have absolute proof in your digital wallet that you have the right to ownership, then why do we need the Land Registry?”

Meanwhile, HM Land Registry is believed to be exploring the future use of blockchain technology in its proposed ‘Digital Street’ scheme.