UNLOCK met with Mr. Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Chief Executive Officer of ERES (Emirates Real-estate Solutions), the technology arm of DLD (Dubai Land Department) to talk about their Blockchain roadmap for 2018.
Al Suwaidi is proud of the intricate relationships between ERES and DLD. As he states, “We here at ERES have been inspired by DLD. We created ERES to build tools, solutions, and know-how especially in a sector where it is really difficult to find off the shelf solutions.” ERES not only provides the IT solutions needed for the real-estate sector but we are also involved in drafting the laws and regulations related to this sector. Al Suwaidi explains, “We are unique because DLD is the only governmental real-estate body that registers and regulates real-estate market at the same time.”
ERES which comprises of more than 60 employees resides within DLD and has developed all the Blockchain solutions that DLD will be using and is currently using today. Dubai Land Department was one of the first government entities in Dubai to launch a Blockchain solution. DLD launched the Title Deed Blockchain solution in October of 2017. As Al Suwaidi states, “DLD’s role has evolved from just being a property registry department, we now offer services to our clients that include finding property through a listing, helping to provide services for renting, and integrating all these services to making it faster and more efficient. This will all be done through integration of Blockchain with 3rd parties.
The start: Title Deeds on Blockchain
DLD through ERES implemented its first Blockchain solution in 2017. DLD placed Title Deeds onto the Blockchain. Al Suwaidi explains, “ We decided not to convert everything to the blockchain at one go, as we wanted to first build the awareness that is essential before connecting to other parties. Today through the Blockchain Ownership platform, we are able to secure more than 500,000 title deeds and 1.5 million smart contract records that connect investors/owners to the property.” Title deeds are generated and legacy systems use it to verify ownership before transferring ownership and then hashing it back onto Blockchain.
Module One: Smart Sales Module
DLD will launch its second Blockchain solution in Q3 or Q4 of 2018 under what is called the Smart Sales Module. As explained by Al Suwaidi, “It will allow owners/investors to sell and buy property without ever needing to step foot into a registration office again. Everything will be carried out online. Even Master developer will be able to sell off plan or exit property online.”
The solution although technically ready is awaiting the laws and regulations needed to support it. Al Suwaidi, “We are working with Smart Dubai to finalize legal and regulatory items related to digital signature and single sign-on. Legal entities in Dubai will need to consider digital signatures and digital identity as legally binding for a proof of sale. The Digital signature law will be coming out soon, and Smart Dubai is formulating a new way of authenticating people other than the current Emirate ID.”
Module Two: Blockchain powered Real-state Listing Portal
DLD is developing as well a smart Listing portal that is Blockchain enabled to be launched in Q3. The journey into real-estate starts with the listing of real-estate. Al Suwaidi explains, “By listing property on a Blockchain enabled portal it will allow real-time listing of information, with no duplications or outdated information. In addition once a property is sold it is automatically delisted. But what is more interesting is that this will be linked to our Blockchain Title deed solution and so from listing, to selling to registration of title deeds it all becomes seamless, smart, and digital.”
He adds, “We will work with brokers, owners, landlords who will be licensed to list property. So we will not eliminate the need for brokers because they have the skills and know-how needed and there will always be the need to visit these properties first hand or through Virtual Reality portals which is an option we are providing.”
As for payment, DLD will continue to use its integrated wallet solution. Already there are more than 10,000 wallets and it is easy to set up a wallet and link to bank account. Al Suwaidi however and his team are working on a Blockchain enabled payment platform to speed up transactions and make them less costly to investors, and buyers. Al Suwaidi is also looking into tokenization options. Suwaidi explains, “We are studying solutions pertaining to tokenization of real-estate and making payment transactions faster and more cost efficient.”
Module Three: Blockchain rental Platform
The current Blockchain rental solution is still in proof of concept stage because it involved more than 6-7 governmental entities. Al Suwaidi tells UNLOCK, “We will go into production soon and have partnered with Emirates NBD to provide Smart Checks. We are also working with WASL on this project as well as Smart Dubai for single sign on, in addition to EJARI (rental department arm in DLD).
Module Four: Blockchain Mortgage Platform
DLD through ERES is building a Blockchain Mortgage platform with Al Mashreq Bank as a partner. The solution will eventually allow all banks to mortgage and de-mortgage property online. All the needed procedures will start and end at the bank according to Al Suwaidi. As Suwaidi explains, “Eventually once it is up and running all banks will have to do is to create a node to connect to ours and then they can seamlessly mortgage and remortgage and de-mortgage property.
DLD Role in UAE Blockchain Vision
In April 2018 UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a strategy to have 50% of UAE Government transactions on the Blockchain by 2021 in an effort to improve quality of life and happiness as noted. DLD as a pioneer in Blockchain implementation is ready to offer guidance and support. As Al Suwaidi commented, “We are more than ready to work with government entities in providing guidance and support. We have already engaged with several entities that even before the announcement were curious as to how they could implement Blockchain. We are more than happy to collaborate, and work with not only entities in UAE but outside. Why reinvent the wheel and start from scratch when there is an already existing model.”
In conclusion ERES has long been providing solutions in the real-estate realm for DLD and is currently offering solutions for entities anywhere in the globe through cloud offerings such as PRO-REC that allows governments to issues title deeds and host them on the cloud. In addition ERES has another product offering LEMATO which is a lease management tool a forked version of Ejari where property owners can manage their property from anywhere in the world through mobile apps even. Suwaidi states, “With our long standing experience, our know-how and the solutions we have built we are ready to offer off the shelf real-estate solutions to governmental, and individuals across the globe. And in the future we hope to offer as well Blockchain enabled solutions.”