Daily fraud update: 2nd June

Chris Lee
HM Land Registry webpage

British Land Registry considers blockchain for anti-fraud use

A major institution of the British government has announced that it is debating using blockchain as a way of tackling fraud.

HM Land Registry, which is responsible for compiling records on property ownership in parts of Britain, said that it is considering a way to make it easier for conveyancers to confirm identities.

Conveyancers are solicitors who are specifically tasked with the property sale and purchase processes.

According to a recent blog post from a major name at the Land Registry, crypto and blockchain techniques are under consideration.

It is understood that the reason for considering a new approach is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has made it difficult for identities to be verified in person because of prohibitive social distancing rules.

A way of using crypto to check passports is understood to be one specific method under consideration.

The Land Registry is working with a range of partners as part of its crypto and anti-fraud exploration efforts, including the Law Society.

It is also working alongside the Chartered Institute for Legal Executives and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

Mike Harlow, who serves as the deputy chief executive of the Land Registry, said that “we believe that cryptographic and biometric checking of identity, using microchip-enabled passports or identity cards, might present a new, robust and convenient answer to the need to maintain social distancing while verifying an applicant’s identity”, it was reported.

Harlow also went on to say more about the “potential simple” anti-fraud solution that could be found by harnessing the power of both crypto and biometric tools.

“Using cryptographic combined with biometric identity solutions presents a potential simple solution”, he said.

“When using these technologies the user places their smartphone next to their passport. The app then analyses the information from the passport chip to cryptographically check the validity of the passport.”

He also said that a user-generated video would be a part of the process.

“The user then records a video, which is then compared with the passport photo on the chip to achieve facial recognition.”

“This can be done using a smartphone (Android and iPhones included), wherever they are, and the results are near immediate”, he added.

Those who work in the crypto technology sphere and feel able to offer their services as suppliers are asked to think about a potential contribution.

Simon Davis, who serves as the president of the Law Society, also weighed in.

He said that there was scope for the new crypto-friendly plan to both “help reduce fraud” and also “maintain social distancing”.

“Cryptographic and biometric checking of identity could help reduce fraud, maintain social distancing and improve the delivery of conveyancing services during the coronavirus crisis and beyond”, he said.

“We will work with HM Land Registry to understand which products are most secure and reliable in producing the results that our solicitors need”, he added.


Chris Lee

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