Land LayBy Holdings chief innovation officer, Dr Peter Tole, a medical doctor, tells how blockchain technology can reduce inefficiencies in land transactions
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
Tell us about your real estate group of firms.
We established Land LayBy three years ago. We operate offices in Melbourne (Australia), London, New York, Nairobi and Accra, where we offer land and land option products for sale to Kenyans living all over the world.
Our company is the pioneer of Buy Now, Pay Tomorrow land-buying system in Kenya and Ghana. We specialise in Land Banking — buying land on the outskirts of a big city and waiting passively or actively for developers to make it appreciate in value. We sell land through innovative contracts that obviate the need for bank loans.
We are also keen to be a leader in the real estate blockchain technology application in developing countries.Recently, we introduced cutting-edge blockchain technology solutions in the management of private land records through our sister company, Land LayBy Technologies.
What is blockchain technology?
Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value. Ours is the first blockchain-powered land-listing firm in this region. We are recording land transaction details in a digital ledger, which cannot be deleted or mutated.
This technology has been lauded for its ability to reduce human error and manipulation. Whereas we require public support and participation for the management of the land transaction records, the innovation encourages participants to ensure land transactional data is accurate at all times by rewarding the validators for correct entries.
Although the listing is private —neither a legal land registry nor a substitute for Land Information System Management (LIMS) — its ability to present incorruptible and edit-proof data has interested the World Bank Group’s Innovation Lab who want to partner with us once we proof the concept.
How will this help the sector?
It will eliminate some hidden costs and unnecessary intermediaries involved in the buying and selling of land while reducing transaction time significantly. In conjunction with public participation, it will enhance data security and eliminate manual errors and duplication of verification processes. The platform will contain verifiable records of each transaction, thus mitigating the risk of fraud, abuse or manipulation.
How will it impact the Kenyan real estate industry?
This innovation can help Kenya’s land buying and selling process that is often characterised by centralised, easy-to-manipulate records, missing documents and duplicate title deeds. It will be complementary to the LIMS, the digitising of land records just launched by government recently.
What motivated you to come up with the idea?
Land buyers, particularly those living in the diaspora, have lost huge amounts of money to friends, relatives and con men posing as professionals.
The existing inefficiencies make it difficult to verify the authenticity of property ownership records, which creates room for fraud. For the diaspora investors, geographical barriers impede the enforcement of contracts in cases of breach of trust.
What challenges have you faced when coming up with the product?
Since there is no regulatory framework that is specific to blockchain technology, we are always presented with the task of explaining our innovation to the regulators. Besides, the misconceptions about the origins of Bitcoin, which is erroneously regarded as a synonym of blockchain technology.