Photographer: Vincent Mundy/Bloomberg

Ukraine Turns to Blockchain to Boost Land Ownership Transparency

  • Move to be important element of land reform, official says
  • Ukraine picks BitFury to launch platform, following Georgia

Ukraine will use blockchain technology to manage its registry of farmland, saying its current system is vulnerable to fraud that leads to conflicts over ownership.

The move will increase transparency and boost trust in the registry, First Deputy Agriculture Minister Maksym Martynyuk said at a news conference in Kiev on Tuesday. Transparency International -- which ranks Ukraine 131st-worst of 176 countries in its corruption perception index -- will be an international auditor of the project, he told reporters.

Land reform is one of the requirements of the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine’s biggest creditor, which has held back payments from a $17.5 billion bailout as the country has failed to meet terms. The government says establishing a comprehensive, transparent and secure registry is necessary to proceed on one element of the overhaul, lifting a ban on the sale of farmland. The switch to blockchain, though the biggest hurdle remains the lack of political support, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

“Land reform is a formation consisting of many bricks,” Martynyuk said. “And this is one of the important bricks.”

Blockchain, the technology that underpins virtual currencies, allows users to make simultaneous changes to databases across a distributed network, which could allow land-registry entries made in one location to be immediately visible across the system, adding to transparency.

Ukraine’s government picked BitFury Group Ltd., which produces equipment for mining virtual currencies, to launch a platform for registering land titles, following the experience of fellow ex-Soviet republic Georgia last year.

— With assistance by Ilya Khrennikov

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