Start-up using blockchain tech to stop property fraud in Africa

26 January 2017

Money Transfer

A start-up is hoping to combat property fraud in emerging markets using the technology behind virtual currency Bitcoin.

BenBen, which has just been accepted onto the Cambridge Social Ventures incubation programme at Judge Business School, puts property records into blockchain, the secure database behind bitcoin.

Founded by entrepreneurs Daniel Block and Emmanuel Noah, it hopes to empower citizens with a transparent, risk-free and equitable platform for undertaking land transactions and securing their land rights.

The company’s head of strategy and business development is Phillip Jarman, a Cambridge native and former student at Anglia Ruskin University.

He told the News: “Property fraud is a huge issue in Africa. When you ‘buy’ a property it can take up to two years to register, because it’s a paper-based system. In that time someone else can come forward and claim that they owned the property in the first place.”

Because of this, getting a mortgage in Africa and other parts of the developing world can be tricky, with many banks unwilling to commit money in a market dogged by criminals.

BenBen offers an online platform where buyers and corporations can quickly search land registries and carry out transactions, cutting the wait time that allows fraudsters to flourish. The blockchain technology ensures the security of the records. The company is currently trying to raise £150,000 in seed funding, having already secured Barclays Ghana as its first customer. Its platform is already up and lists 40,000 properties in Accra, the Ghanian capital.

Phillip has a background in banking, and worked in the African market before doing an MBA, where he specialised in finance for emerging markets.

“I’ve long believed blockchain will change banking,” he said. “Owning property has massive implications for developing markets, and we think we can reduce a process that currently takes two years to just two weeks.”

Source: Cambridge News 24 January 2017