Blockchain can work as a compelling force to strengthen people’s land rights, researchers said at the 20th Annual Conference on Land and Poverty in Washington. However, a poor understanding of how the technology works has so far limited its impact. And the World Bank has weighed in urging caution over its role in land rights, reports Reuters.
Aanchal Anand, Land Administration Specialist in the bank’s Global Land and Geospatial Unit, said countries’ teething problems with blockchain reflect a broader tendency to “expect too much” from technology.
“Tech can look big and flashy, and like it can solve all our problems, but the Big Mac burger never matches up to the one in the ad,” she said. “There’s a lot of other pieces to the puzzle, like cultural barriers to improve access to land, and if you don’t have any data, what information are you going to put into your analytics?”
The World Bank’s own blog currently has 6380 articles relating to blockchain available to read.
Blockchain Can’t Solve All Problems
Tim Robustelli of think tank New America, said it is still poorly understood by governments and cannot solve every problem.
“There’s a general notion that blockchain is a magic bullet, can save the rainforest or solve world hunger, that’s not true,” he said at the conference. “It cannot, for example, make up for sloppy or incomplete data collection,” he said, adding that digitizing land records for example was a “huge bureaucratic and logistical” task.
Bank of America (BAC) tech and operations chief, Cathy Bessant, is also doubtful about blockchain amounting to anything. Although BAC has accumulated more patents for blockchain technology than any financial outlet, she now says she is bearish. But bearish bankers are a dime a dozen when it comes to crypto.
Bessant claims that although she is open minded, most of what she sees doesn’t make sense for finance or significantly improve upon existing methods. “It’s a technology in search of a use case, rather than something designed specifically to solve existing problems”.
Anand added that technology does not have to be complex or out of reach for most people to be effective. “Sometimes we get lost in the fancy things, but basic tech can deliver the results”.
Image: Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock.com