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New Patent Eyes Blockchain Timestamping for Property Contracts

A major real estate brokerage in China is exploring how to provide definitive proof of a contract's time of signature using blockchain tech.

Jun 20, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:04 a.m. UTC

Lianjia.com, one of the largest online real-estate brokerages in China, is exploring a way to store digital contract data on a blockchain to reduce the risk of disputes at a later stage.

According to a patent application filed by Lianjia's technology development subsidiary in November 2017 and released on Friday, the company is developing a system that can connect an existing contract management database with a blockchain.

When a customer signs a digital contract for property leasing or sales, the system will initiate a transaction on the blockchain that encodes the user's digital signature to obtain a timestamp. The hash of that blockchain transaction will be further stored in the contract system for future proof of the event.

The company said that, while its existing centralized contract management system is well equipped to prevent alteration of contract content using multi-signature technology, a remaining challenge is to ensure the authenticity of the exact moment of the agreement being inked.

Provide precision over when the contract is signed relative to when the actual money is paid is a factor that can make a notable difference should a dispute arise around a real-estate sale, it says.

Initially founded in 2001, Lianjia was rebranded as an internet-based brokerage firm in 2010, with an online-to-offline model. It has grown into one of the largest real-estate platforms in China and offers property leasing and sales services in over 20 cities in the country.

House model image via Shutterstock

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