Digital Identification Management
When a migrant worker was arrested in Immokalee for driving without a license and resisting arrest without violence, the arresting officer discovered a significant sum of cash strapped to his body. Assuming it was drug money, the officer retained the cash under the rules of criminal forfeiture and it was never recovered, even after the migrant worker was proven innocent.
Migrant workers often carry cash on their persons until they’ve amassed a sum significant enough to justify the expense of a wire transfer to their families in their countries of origin. This was the case for one Immokalee worker, who represents 150,000 to 200,000 migrant and seasonal farmworkers and families who travel annually to Florida to earn money for their families. These seasonal workers experience barriers to opening a local bank account because they lack required credentials to meet increasing “know your customer” and “anti-money laundering” standards, explained Santos.
The man’s court case was a defining moment for Santos, who fought successfully for his innocence in her former role as a public defender in Florida’s 20th judicial circuit but could not recover the hard-earned wages he had lost. She believes blockchain can solve this problem through connection to biometrics, for example, which would create a secure, trustworthy identity record linked to one individual. Essential for procuring myriad services in modern life, proper identification would also enable greater access to health care, education and transportation services, as well as employment opportunities.
Self-Executing Smart Contracts
Santos predicts consumers and businesses will soon see contracts that are able to self-execute on a vastly, more complex plane. In escrow for real estate or seed funds, for example, investor funds are pooled together and managed by a third party that holds and disburses funds according to terms of the escrow agreement.
Blockchain technology is programmable to release funds at the exact time certain conditions are met. Santos explained, “You could develop a part of a smart contract that generally says “if funds are raised before date certain, then disburse funds to project; or, if funds are not raised and date certain has passed, then return any funds to investors.’”
By removing the third-party middleman, it could increase security of the investment and maximize the potential for profit. Theoretically, it could also reduce the time needed for these transactions to take place, since they would be automated digitally rather than requiring human intervention.
Digital Property Records
Blockchain’s effective digitization of assets create an immutable, secure ledger that can track an item throughout every point in the supply chain. This process ensures buyers, brokers and suppliers have a traceable, unalterable history of each product.
Applied to real estate, recording the ownership of a property on the blockchain effectively eliminates the need for the title industry – once again, removing the need for a third-party middleman.
“I think the fastest use in government that we’re going to see is property records management,” Santos said. “If you record the history of my home and the title ownership on a sufficiently decentralized blockchain that’s publicly available, where you can be certain information is totally valid, then I won’t need to ever conduct another title search ever again. Nor will I need title insurance. Nor will I need to sue anybody over the validity of the chain of title.”