The blockchain, a radical remedy to property theft


A few weeks ago, Banque Populaire (BCP) issued for the first time, with the support of the Moroccan Capital Market Authority (AMMC) and Maroclear, bonds on blockchain as part of a fund raising funds of 100 million dirhams. A first in Morocco which seems to announce others to come.

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

We will try to answer them as clearly and briefly as possible. Those who would like 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 everyone, it keeps a trace or a sort of fingerprint of all the 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 a transaction (purchase, sale, transfer of value, etc.).

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

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

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

As for the queen of cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin is quite simply an original monetary protocol using the blockchain system.

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

The answer is yes. One of the application sectors that would need it the most is that of land. Because a mafia in the literal sense, that of real estate spoliation, is deployed in a tentacular way in different strata (administration, justice, notaries, local elected officials, etc.).

We all remember the letter sent by His Majesty the King in 2016 to the Minister of Justice at the time, 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: interministerial commission, discussions around a reform of legal texts, etc.

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

Moreover, it seems useful to me to recall that article 2 of law 39/8 constitutes the best ally of this mafia. This limits the admissibility of a complaint in the event of theft of your property to four years. Thus, if by misfortune you consider that your property acquired by the sweat of your brow is forever, you are seriously mistaken.

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

But what does the blockchain have to do with all this?

Well, it might fix the problem at the root. Because these crimes cannot exist without the failure of the trusted third party. Because to despoil a property, you necessarily need notaries, civil servants, judges, clerks and corrupt local elected officials, who can then do everything to block or sabotage a possible investigation.

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

This makes it possible to transfer the ownership of a real good on the blockchain, and to keep all the different transactions relating to it incorruptible.

A property can for example be tokenized in an undivided way, that is to say that a token expresses the ownership of the whole property, as it can be divided into several tokens, giving rise to collective ownership. This last possibility could be extremely interesting for the real estate sector since it increases the liquidity on this market, in particular for the development of projects with rental yield.

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

To put it more simply, tokenization makes it possible to transform any real good into a company with several shareholders, by saving on notarial deeds and the endless and costly procedures that currently prevail.

But the most important thing here is that thanks to blockchain technology, your real estate 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 land register or cadastre. What put out of service the mafias mentioned above.

But there is the question of taxes. Since, as we mentioned earlier, the blockchain actually keeps track of all the transactions carried out, but it preserves the anonymity of the members of the network. The State will therefore not be able to know who 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 real estate must be done digitally, through digital platforms made available by the State, in order to be able to collect all information on the acquirers 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 register.

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 bankruptcy.

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