Design Solutions: Using Blockchain for Real Estate Transactions

OnePair Founder Noah Bouma Named First Winner of Digital Identity Design Challenge

The DIACC teamed up with IdentityNORTH, the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA), and the University of British Columbia’s Blockchain and Distributed Research and Education Cluster (Blockchain@UBC) to launch the first Digital ID Design Challenge (DIDC). Design challenges offer students and professionals the chance to contribute ideas for real-world, industry applications of digital identification.

DIACC President Joni Brennan, IdentityNORTH Co-Founder and President Aran Hamilton, and Al-Karim Kara, Vice President of Business Innovation and CIO at the LTSA speaking at IdentityNORTH Western Forum 2017.


IdentityNORTH Co-Founder and President Aran Hamilton and Noah Bouma, OnePair Founder

For the inaugural DIDC eSTC challenge, teams were asked to focus on how digital ID can improve and simplify the process of accessing and distributing electronically delivered state of title certificates (eSTC). Teams explored the viability of blockchain technologies with the mission of removing digital ID friction from real estate transactions. Solutions were judged based on their relevance, economic and social benefit, feasibility, and other criteria.





“The Digital ID Design Challenge was a great opportunity to capture the imaginations of a whole new group of people about the opportunities that digital ID unlocks and how important this is going to be for all of us,” said Aran Hamilton, Co-Founder and Chair of IdentityNORTH. “With this defined use case, and a few short weeks, we were blown away by all the new voices and ideas that flooded into the digital ID community.”


The results were impressive, with 15 teams from around the world registered and 9 submitting their ideas for a more robust, secure, and user-friendly real estate transaction process. Two finalists were selected for their outstanding work and invited to present their ideas to digital identification enthusiasts and experts at the IdentityNORTH Western Forum on November 7, 2017.

OnePair, a solo submission from Noah Bouma, was selected as a finalist. Bouma is a developer and first year business student at University of Calgary. He is also a long track speed skater and founder of OnePair. 

Mike Brown, Director of Innovation at ATB Financial




Alphabeta, a collaborative effort from Matthew Gaiser, Computer Engineering Student from Queen’s University, and Mike Brown, Director of Innovation at ATB Financial, were also invited to share their solution with attendees. The duo worked together on several blockchain-related projects during Gaiser’s summer internship at ATB Financial, many of which were related to identity.


The Top Blockchain Solutions for eSTC

The OnePair solution proposed the implementation of a decentralized electronic certificate issuance, registration, presentation, and verification scheme. By using a verifiable claims model and the blockchain as a registry, independent apps would be produced to simplify the experience for all users, the LTSA, customers, and third party verifiers.

Bouma developed a prototype of the customer app using the BlockCerts standard, demonstrating the functionality and convenience of the interface. Built with digital identity standards that integrate within the broader context, the solution is designed retain privacy and security while offering adaptable uses and opportunities for future iteration and enhancement.

“The design challenge was a great opportunity to apply what I have been researching and working on,” Bouma says. “I believe that blockchain is going to let us do new things in new ways.”

Alphabeta’s submission relied upon the existing Sovrin blockchain network, a free global public utility for sharing verified information. This solution would be led by the LTSA, who would join and onboard other users with Sovrin. The LTSA would create a claim definition for eSTC and the bank would create a proof definition, which would be available for request to customers once a pair-wise DID is established and validated with the LTSA. The customer would send a claims request, to which the LTSA would respond with more details.

A pair-wise DID would then be created between the bank and the customer, making the eSTC proof definition visible. The bank would send a proof request and customers would then supply eSTC proof details to the bank. Finalized eSTC details would then be exchanged and validated. It would be possible for eSTCs to be revoked and expire on the system. Customers would also benefit from a high degree of control over their personal information, privacy, and security. As the solution would be built on the Sovrin system, a new dedicated blockchain would not need to be developed.

OnePair’s submission came out ahead and Noah Bouma was named the winner by the DIACC President Joni Brennan, IdentityNORTH Co-Founder and President Aran Hamilton, and Al-Karim Kara, Vice President of Business Innovation and CIO at the LTSA, as well as the audience at IdentityNORTH Western Forum.

Reviewing the submissions was inspiring! They really grounded the potential of digital ID in reality,” said Brennan. “We’re excited to run more Digital ID Design Challenges to nurture made-in-Canada solutions and keep expanding how we think about and approach digital identification and authentication

Bouma’s extremely user-friendly interface design and the solution’s flexibility across multiple use cases, public, and private sectors made it come out ahead. His thoughtful approach to interoperability, privacy, and prototyping made the solution a viable option for more secure real estate transactions.

Thank you to all participants and partners who made our first DIDC a success! Follow us to learn about upcoming challenges.