The Road to Implementing Blockchain for Recordkeeping Might Just Start with Vehicle Titling

By Shane McRann Bigelow, CEO, Ownum

Vehicle ownership is a massive market. Every vehicle sale requires a change of title — a record of ownership maintained by local government — and more than 272,480,000 vehicles were registered to their owners in the U.S. in 2017 alone using manual, paper-based records. This manual process is not only inefficient but costs between $50 and $90 on average to title and re-title vehicles. The status quo is an expensive, slow, and worse, a fraud-prone paper-based system.

Recognizing this issue, states have embraced efforts to migrate the vehicle titling process from paper to online computer systems. Storing information related to car titles in centralized databases allows for increased efficiency by reducing the time required to mail or hand-deliver documents.

However, this type of centralized, cloud-hosted database does not solve all of the issues. Firstly, it duplicates the information contained on paper titles. Secondly, a centralized database can still only be updated by the owner, meaning the same linear information-flow between stakeholders, which is a cause of inefficiency today. If law enforcement, car purchasers, and state governments long for a system in which real-time updates can inform all users of an unpaid tax, undisclosed lien, or lapsed insurance, there’s another technology that’s better placed to help.

Blockchain offers a far better solution.

The unique qualities of blockchain  — including distribution of data, implicit security, and the ability to encode updates to database record details automatically — can be applied to enhance numerous types of records such as liens, insurance, ownership transfers, tax payments, and of course the titling of vehicles. A true digital title in a transparent blockchain environment would dramatically increase the security and efficiency of processing the record while greatly reducing opportunities for fraud and mistakes, which can be made along the way.

At Ownum, for example, we’ve set forth to accomplish a new CHAMPtitles solution by utilizing a Blockchain Encrypted Ledger That’s Executable and Distributed, a BELTED system. Our aim is to create a trusted marketplace whereby all disparate parties are linked together in a secure and immutable way. This allows for the electronic verification of each party’s relevance and stake in the vehicle transaction.

In evaluating the goals of business, government, and consumers, a digital titling system on the blockchain could deliver many desired benefits. For a start, digital titles stored on the blockchain could cut total processing time from days or weeks to minutes or seconds. Indeed, consumer testing undertaken to date shows us that such a system has the capability of slashing total time spent at every stage of the titling process, including data entry, review, and approval, for every participant in the process.

States spend tens of millions of dollars per year on the current auto title process, a cost borne by taxpayers. A true digital title system will make our roads safer, reduce costs, and benefit business, government, and consumers.

Now just imagine the benefits applied to other industries and inefficiencies. The possibilities are endless.