Knight Barry Title has kept an eye on blockchain for a while now because well, it’s intriguing. We have “innovation” right in our tagline, so the curiosity makes sense. (Plus, at one point recently the whole country was enamored with Bitcoin.)
The title industry’s relationship with blockchain got off to an uneasy start. The bad blood started in 2017 as analysts and blockchain advocates started floating the idea that the technology behind cryptocurrency would replace the traditional way real estate transactions are recorded and overhaul our way of life. That notion was included in a November 2017 Wall Street Journal piece
. The headlines that have followed since have included ominous questions such as “Will The Power Of Blockchain Mean The End Of Title Insurance Companies In 20 Years?” and “Will Blockchain Kill The Title Industry?”.
Speaking on an ALTA-sponsored webinar, Tony Franco -- the founder of the Ohio-based company SafeChain -- said he believes that blockchain can be a “massive value add” for the title industry instead of being a market disruptor. Blockchain does offer an extra layer of security, immutability and control for agents and companies, he pointed out.
He has put his money where his mouth is. Franco said he has built his company on the idea that after cryptocurrency, blockchain is coming to land titles next, but in his much more symbiotic view of things, the technology is going to be of immense benefit to title agents. Franco said those predicting the doom of the traditional title and closing process forgot one thing: local governments aren’t just going to give up their power because there is a new technology out there. Instead of worrying about how blockchain could be used to force a new system of recording, Franco said we should be focused on how the technology can operate under the current rules that will benefit the title industry.
“I wish title and blockchain did not get off to the rocky start that it did,” Franco said. “We believe that there are tons of applications (for blockchain) and we believe people are still figuring them out... it’s an early and immature market but eventually we will see a ton of benefits.”
To watch a recording of Franco’s webinar for yourself, visit ALTA’s website or click here
People involved in title and real estate can learn all they want about the specifics of how Blockchain works if they want, Franco said, but it’s not necessary. When trying to understand blockchain, Franco said title agents and companies should focus on how a product using blockchain can benefit the office and help their customers, not how blockchain itself works.
“I very much want to decouple the idea that you need to understand a technology to understand the benefits of that technology,” Franco said.
We’re still a while off from blockchain-backed solutions flooding the market for title companies to take advantage of, according to Franco. Even with all the publicity the issue has gotten in the last year, no one is close to providing something that has mainstream adoption yet, and many of the Blockchain-backed ideas are still in the concept phase. Franco believes blockchain right now is in the same place as dial-up was for the Internet revolution – meaning it’s still a long way from reaching its potential.
Blockchain is certainly a technology Knight Barry Title will continue to look at in 2019. If there are programs out there using it that we think can help our customers or us, we’ll be sure to explore them. Otherwise, we’ll simply keep doing what we can do deliver the best title and closing experience in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. And of course, if you have any specific questions about blockchain, contact us