Blockchain Land Transfers: Technology, Promises, and Perils

24 Pages Posted: 11 May 2022 Last revised: 24 Aug 2022

See all articles by Vincent Ooi

Vincent Ooi

Singapore Management University - Yong Pung How School of Law; Singapore Management University - Centre for AI & Data Governance

Kian Peng Soh

Singapore Management University - Yong Pung How School of Law

Jerrold Soh

Singapore Management University - Yong Pung How School of Law; Singapore Management University - Centre for AI & Data Governance

Date Written: April 1, 2022

Abstract

The blockchain’s apparent immutability has attracted significant interest on whether it may be relied on for registering and transferring land. Proponents of blockchain-based land systems point toward data security, automated transacting, and improved accessibility as key benefits; critics raise concerns over structural vulnerabilities, such as majority attacks, and inconsistencies with existing legal frameworks. The literature, however, tends to conceptualise blockchain as one monolithic data structure invariably built on the same mechanisms powering Bitcoin. This paper seeks to situate the debate on a closer understanding of the range of blockchain implementations possible. To this end, we provide a detailed technological survey of established and emerging blockchain technologies, clarifying that different consensus mechanisms, permissioning schemes, and other use-based customisations, are possible. We then re-evaluate the promises and perils of blockchain land transfers in this light, focusing on the English conveyancing system, and illustrate how different implementations involve different advantages and limitations. However, the features necessary to avoid key vulnerabilities also diminish the marginal advantages of using blockchains over traditional electronic databases. Thus, we conclude that blockchains, even properly understood, remain unsuitable for land transfers.

Keywords: Blockchain, Land Registration, e-Conveyancing

Suggested Citation

Ooi, Vincent and Soh, Kian Peng and Soh, Jerrold, Blockchain Land Transfers: Technology, Promises, and Perils (April 1, 2022). (2022) 45 (105672) Computer Law & Security Review 1-13, SMU Centre for AI & Data Governance Research Paper 04/2022, Singapore Management University School of Law Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4072348 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4072348

Vincent Ooi (Contact Author)

Singapore Management University - Yong Pung How School of Law ( email )

55 Armenian Street
Singapore, 179943
Singapore

HOME PAGE: http://vincentooi.com

Singapore Management University - Centre for AI & Data Governance ( email )

55 Armenian Street
Singapore
Singapore

Kian Peng Soh

Singapore Management University - Yong Pung How School of Law ( email )

55 Armenian Street
Singapore, 179943
Singapore

Jerrold Soh

Singapore Management University - Yong Pung How School of Law ( email )

55 Armenian Street
Singapore, 179943
Singapore

Singapore Management University - Centre for AI & Data Governance ( email )

55 Armenian Street
Singapore
Singapore

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
544
Abstract Views
999
Rank
92,147
PlumX Metrics