The blockchain, a radical remedy for property theft


A few weeks ago, Banque Populaire (BCP) first issued, with the support of the Moroccan Capital Market Authority (AMMC) and Maroclear, blockchain bonds as part of a fundraiser of 100 million dirhams. A first in Morocco that seems to announce the arrival of others.

But first of all, not all being passionate about digital technologies, it is legitimate to ask the following question: what is blockchain and what is it for?

We will try to answer as clearly and concisely as possible. Anyone wishing more details, especially on the technical aspect, can turn to the hundreds of explanatory videos on the net.

The blockchain is above all a decentralized, disintermediated and encrypted database.

In addition to being public and accessible to all, it keeps track or some sort of fingerprint of all transactions made. However, the people behind these transactions remain anonymous.

This fully computerized system makes it possible to circumvent the need for a trusted third party (bank, notary, etc.) to carry out an operation (purchase, sale, transfer of value, etc.).

Therefore, you can send a sum of 1,000 DH to someone without going through a bank and the related costs, or buy or sell a property without going to the notary. Being human, a notary is corruptible, the blockchain is not.

This database is composed of blocks containing several hundred indelibly recorded transactions and which are added to other blocks, thus forming a chain of blocks, or the blockchain.

The computing power required for the blockchain is made available to the network by individuals and companies through powerful computers. They are called “miners”.

As for the cryptocurrency queen, Bitcoin is simply an original monetary protocol that uses the blockchain system.

But beyond the private sector, often at the forefront of new technologies, could the state make good use of this technology at the service of citizens?

The answer is yes. One of the application sectors that would need it most is that of land. Because a mafia in the literal sense, that of real estate dispossession, is spread out in a sprawling way in the different layers (administration, justice, notaries, local elected representatives, etc.).

We all remember the letter sent by His Majesty the King in 2016 to the then Minister of Justice, Mustapha Ramid, calling on the authorities to take the necessary measures to put an end to this scourge, that of property theft.

Since then, many things have been done formally: inter-ministerial commission, discussions on a reform of legal texts, etc.

But on the ground, citizens who are victims of these crimes, including many MREs who are easy prey for them, continue to suffer in silence. Complaint files are piling up and impunity still seems to have a bright future ahead of it.

Furthermore, it seems useful to remember that article 2 of law 39/8 is the best ally of this mafia. This limits the eligibility of a claim if your property is stolen to four years. So, if you unfortunately believe that your possessions acquired with the sweat of your brow are forever, you are very wrong.

The right to property, considered sacred in a market economy, becomes the object of permanent anguish, that of citizens who have to systematically check every four years if their home is still theirs, paying 100 DH each time to find out. Many victims, despite realizing before these four years that their property has been stolen, still have difficulty in asserting and recovering their rights.

But what is the blockchain in all of this?

Well, it might solve the root problem. Because these crimes cannot exist without the failure of the trusted third party. Because to loot a property, notaries, public officials, judges, employees and local corrupt officials are necessarily required, who can then do everything to block or sabotage any investigation.

The process of using blockchain technology for real assets, in this case real estate, is called “tokenization”.

This allows you to transfer the ownership of a real asset on the blockchain, and to keep all the various transactions related to it incorruptible.

For example, a property can be tokenized indivisibly, i.e. a token expresses ownership of the entire property, as it can be divided into several tokens, giving rise to collective ownership. The latter possibility could be extremely attractive for the real estate sector as it increases liquidity in this market, particularly for the development of rental projects.

For example, if an apartment costs 1 million DH and its ownership is tokenized in 100 shares, i.e. 10,000 DH tokens, I can, with only 20,000 DH, become a shareholder of this property by purchasing two tokens. Subsequently, the real estate agency that will manage this property will pay the corresponding dues to each token holder at the end of each month, after subtracting the management and maintenance costs of the property.

Put simply, tokenization allows you to transform any real asset into a company with multiple shareholders, saving on notarial deeds and the endless and expensive procedures that currently prevail.

But the most important thing here is that thanks to blockchain technology, your property is permanently protected. Because all members of the network have proof that your property is yours.

From this point of view, this technology, which already exists in embryo in the United States, takes the form of an incorruptible, decentralized and disintermediated cadastre or cadastre. What put the above mafias out of service.

But then there is the question of taxes. Since, as mentioned above, the blockchain actually keeps track of all the transactions made, but preserves the anonymity of the network members. The state will therefore not be able to know who has sold to whom, and who owes what to the Treasury.

The solution lies in the need for new legislation, which could impose the fact that the tokenization of divisible or indivisible properties must take place digitally, through digital platforms made available by the State, in order to collect all the information on the buyers of the tokens, and on the value. and nature of the transaction. But being guaranteed by the blockchain system, no official will be able to corrupt this ledger.

To conclude, we will say that while waiting to be able to bet on the goodness of human nature to fight corruption, technology is there to fill your moral failure.

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