Texas-based record-keeping service Factom has reportedly partnered with the Honduras government to pilot a program using the blockchain to record land ownership in the country.
The trail will be made with the help of software company Epigraph, a title registry company building “next generation” solutions, based in Austin, Texas. As reported by Reuters, the Honduras government has agreed to use “a permanent and secure land title record system using the underlying technology behind bitcoin.”
The idea to use the blockchain to record land ownership in underdeveloped countries was a use case Factom had in mind since it went live late last year. According to a video by Factom, nearly 70 percent of Latin America’s land is unregistered, leaving the poor, who have most of their wealth in land, vulnerable.
“In the past, Honduras has struggled with land title fraud,” Factom President Peter Kirby told Reuters. “The country’s database was basically hacked. So bureaucrats could get in there and they could get themselves beachfront properties.”
The details of the project remain scarce, and despite Reuters reaching out multiple times to the Honduran government to comment on the partnership, the publication did not get a response. The cost of the project or to what degree the government will be using the blockchain for land registry remains unclear.
The project makes Honduras the second government to use the blockchain to record government data. Earlier this month, Isle of Man’s Department of Economic Development announced it would begin to record the number of digital currency businesses located on the island with the blockchain of the proof-of-stake digital currency Credits. The small country has been the focus of Bitcoin startups because of its business-friendly environment and has 25 cryptocurrency companies located there.
Violent land disputes
According to Factom, the company will be able to solve the country’s land registry problems by recording ownership on the incorruptible blockchain. Bitcoin technology does have potential to be a better store of record than existing options, but, even so, it seems up in the air whether the technology will be able to solve the country’s brutal land issues.
The roots of Honduras’ land conflicts began in the 1970s and ’80s when the government redistributed land, an estimated 120,000 hectares, to poor peasants. In the 1990s the land reform was reversed and, according to local farmers, much of the land was “sold’ to large businesses and politicians through methods of bribery, threats and coercion.
Today, with 79 murders per 100,000 people, Honduras is considered one of the world’s most dangerous countries, and according to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, the most unequal country in Latin America. Things have only gotten worse for the country since democratically elected Manuel Zelaya was ousted from power by businessman Roberto Micheletti. Micheletti has reportedly encouraged the oppression of farmers and peasants through “death squads.”