An asset registry can be described a book of records that maintains the ownership status of such assets (and are generally maintained by legal authorities).
Asset registry/transaction is an area where one witness the maximum disputes, and hence a lot of time and money is spent on resolving asset ownership claims.
In general, the current system of maintaining an asset registry is centralized and mostly maintains the last owner. This makes it difficult to refute (or prove) a particular asset ownership claim and leads to a lot of legal troubles.
If we drill down the use case of an asset registry, we can clearly see that we need a system that:
- Can maintain an audit history of all asset exchanges till date.
- Have them in a timestamped manner
- Gives assurance that the records can not be changed
- Are agreed upon by all stakeholders, and are decentralized.
All these requirements can easily be fulfilled by a permissioned /public blockchain solution.
Each exchange of an asset from one party to another can be created as a transaction; timestamped; verified by all parties via a pre-agreed consensus mechanism; digitally signed and authenticated by relevant stakeholders, and then committed to an immutable ledger that is maintained as a node by all the participating agents.
This is already being tried out by a few government agencies for small things like electricity bikes etc. However, the system can easily be used to manage complex stuff as land records because of its underlying principles.
For eg: In India, land disputes amount to almost 50% legal cases. The Indian land mafia is pretty notorious and several people have lost their lifelong savings to such scams.
Now imagine, if every exchange of land is
- Linked to a digital payment
- Gets cryptographically signed by the govt, the seller, and the buyer
- And gets stored in an immutable ledger that is replicated across several govt agencies.
This would make it pretty difficult (if not impossible) for someone to wrongfully claim a piece of land.
While there is still a long way to go, but apart from the supply chain, asset registry could be the next big thing for Blockchain.