Block Chain

Beyond Bitcoin: How Blockchain’s Making a Dent in the World

Back in the ‘80’s Steve Jobs famously aspired to put a dent in the universe. Fast-forward to today, and BLOCKCHAIN ’s encryption methodology is allowing developers to verify the authenticity of each transaction. The result is already changing industries and governments.

The latest industry to be changed is publishing. Civil Media Company is a New York-based startup which, according to The New York Times, “aims to use blockchain technology to launch 1,000 publications nationwide by the end of the year.” Notably, it was funded by ConsenSys, whose founder is Ethereum’s co-founder, Joseph Lubin. One of the most newsworthy of Civil’s new publications is The Colorado Sun, staffed with some of the best and brightest writers and editors formerly associated with The Denver Post.

Like other Civil-backed, online-only publications, The Sun promises it will be “a community-supported, journalist-owned team focused on investigative, explanatory and narrative journalism,” and ad free. In addition to Civil’s checkbook, The Sun is also counting on funds from a Kickstarter campaign and $5 a month from its charter subscribers to support it “shining light on the news that matters.”

Another industry that blockchain will inevitably impact is real estate. Since, at its core, blockchain is the ability to share databases and processes, according to Forbes, blockchain could make a shared, nationwide MLS database possible, offering real-time access to property information straight from the source.

Even governments like Chicago’s Cook County – the nation’s second largest – have piloted transferring and tracking property titles using blockchain technology. There are a host of reasons for doing this, including that the transactional record would be irreversible and impenetrable to hackers – and to fire. Turns out, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 – which destroyed 3.3 square miles of Chicago and left more than 100,000 residents homeless – also destroyed all of the County’s property records. In fact, John G. Shortall, the owner of one of the three privately-held abstract firms in Chicago who were able to save their documents, was later acknowledged a civic hero – even though he had to force a passing wagon driver at gunpoint to load his records. After several mergers, the three abstract firms ultimately became known as Chicago Title Insurance Company, which is now a part of Fidelity National Financial, Inc., one of the nation’s largest title companies.

In an eye-opening conversation with John Mirkovic, Cook County’s Deputy Recorder for Communications & Information Technology in the County’s Recorder of Deeds office, I learned that in counties across the country, it’s all too easy to “steal” a house or property because County Recorders are not legally required to verify the authenticity of the transaction. And in many places a document of conveyance doesn’t even need to be recorded. The County’s ambitious blockchain pilot had many goals – including “a paperless public record of property transactions,” brilliantly articulated in John’s slideshare BLOCKCHAIN: The Future of Land Records Management. Today, while not yet fully using blockchain (turns out it would involve legislative changes, in Illinois, and the coordinated efforts of five different areas where property information is stored within Cook County), it is continuing to study the possibilities and refocus their efforts on statewide education.

Meanwhile, history was made in Chittenden County, Vermont – home of Burlington, Ben & Jerry’s, and a population of 161,531, when a Deed smart contract registered by the Propy Registry became the first government-sanctioned blockchain recorded real estate deal in the U.S. – and was paid for with PRO tokens. So that, “on the 20th day of February, 2018, a deed was recorded in a smart contract … of the Ethereum public blockchain.”

A small step indeed towards more securely protecting, what Forbes estimates as more than $31.8 trillion worth of homes in the U.S.

by Mimi Grant, President, Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization – Round Tables and Events for CEOs of Technology and Healthcare Companies