The challenge use case objective and details are below. Be sure to review the additional use case resources for information including introduction to blockchain technologies, advice for developers, non-developers, and domain experts, and questions to consider.
Use Case: Accessing and Distributing Electronically Delivered State of Title Certificates (eSTC)
We would like participants of the Digital ID Design Challenge to come up with design ideas and solutions, leveraging blockchain technology and digital identities as appropriate, to improve the overall efficiency for accessing, sharing, verifying, and trusting Electronic State of Title Certificates for customers and third-party participants of the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA).
The Digital ID Design Challenge encourages use of blockchain technology: we are interested to learn of the potential value of the various blockchain technologies related to this challenge. If you think blockchain technology is appropriate for the solution, please let us know why. However, if you think it isn’t the right solution, we want to hear about alternative solutions as well.
What is the Problem to be Solved?
How can the overall efficiency for accessing, sharing, verifying, and trusting Electronic State of Title Certificates for customers and third-party participants be improved, leveraging blockchain technology and digital identities?
What are State of Title Certificates?
With the focus of this use case on Electronic State of Title Certificates (eSTC), you’ll need to know what an eSTC is. An eSTC is a certified copy of a land title that is processed by the land title office (the LTSA). State of Title Certificates (STC) can be physically or electronically issued to customers; however the focus of this use case is only on electronically issued STCs, otherwise known as eSTCs.
What is the Current Process for Accessing, Sharing, and Verifying Electronic State of Title Certificates?
When a request for a certificate to be issued electronically is processed, the customer is granted access to a secure PDF of the eSTC containing the Registrar’s seal (Figure 1.), with access valid for 7-days.
Figure 1. An example eSTC
On the PDF of the eSTC, customers are also provided a hyperlink to the LTSA Certifications Access Service (Figure 2.). This service enables customers to share their certificates with third parties (e.g. a bank), as well as for third-parties to verify the contents of a certificate. Access to the LTSA Certifications Access Services does not require login and is available free of charge. However, to view a certificate online, a user requires:
- A Certificate Number; and
- The Access Code from the PDF (valid for 12-months from the date of issue)
Figure 2. LTSA Certifications Access Service
On the PDF of the eSTC, customers are also provided a hyperlink to the LTSA Certifications Access Services, which embeds the Certificate Number and Access Code within a hyperlink, which auto-populates the required information. After selecting the option to View, customers can then open or save the eSTC.
Problems with the Current Processes for Accessing, Sharing, and Verifying Electronic State of Title Certificates
PAIN POINT #1: ACCESS
If a customer loses or misplaces the original PDF of the eSTC that was issued to them, the eSTC becomes inaccessible for the remaining time period during which it is valid. This is because the Certificate Number and Access Code can only be found on the PDF. Further, the LTSA has no mechanism that enables retrieval of the Certificate Number and Access Code after the eSTC is issued.
This is problematic for both customers and the LTSA. Customers who can’t access their eSTCs would have to submit (and pay for) a new eSTC. This creates dual inefficiencies for the LTSA: 1) LTSA staff receive related enquiries on how to recover their eSTC (which is not possible without access to the original PDF of the eSTC). 2) Lost certificates consume hard-drive space of the LTSA Certifications Access Service, because lost certificates will remain in storage for the remainder of the 12 months period for which they are valid, even if the service isn’t being used.
PAIN POINT #2: SHARING
Before STCs were delivered electronically, they were originally delivered by mail. Third-parties such as banks and law firms identified the mail as coming from LTSA and trusted it to be authentic by the colour of paper the certificate was printed on. With the move to eSTCs, customers have to access the eSTC and then email the hyperlink or the PDF to the third party. Or they can print out the PDF and deliver it in person or by mail. However, third-parties are unable to rely on previous trust points of LTSA mail and uniquely coloured paper and feel they have no mechanism of authenticating the PDF. For security reasons (e.g., authentication of individuals’ identities), some third parties (e.g. law firms, banks) will not accept a printed-PDF copy of the certificate, or an email with the hyperlink or PDF.
Questions to Consider
- How can the process for the expiration and removal of the eSTCs stored with LTSA be automated?
- How can third-parties trust an electronically delivered eSTC?
- How can third-parties digitally verify a customer’s identity?
- How can participants involved with eSTC (e.g. property owners, lawyers, banks, LTSA, etc.) be connected to streamline the process of sharing and using eSTCs?
- How can access to an eSTC be controlled or permissioned by a property owner to share with other interested parties?
Recommended Resources for State of Title Certificates
In thinking about your solution design, you may want to dig a little deeper into the current process for accessing, sharing and verifying eSTCs. The following resources from LTSA’s website are recommended to gain a deeper understanding of the current process. Included in this list of resources, is a video that demonstrates the process:
- LTSA Certifications Access Service
- Help Guide – Process of ordering and accessing State of Title Certificates
- Direct link to the video
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