1. Could you give us a general introduction to your organization?
We graduated as computer engineers 9 months ago and 6 of us wanted to begin a startup. We were considering either leaving the country for further education or work or just staying here and all of us decided to stay here in the end. The company that we plan on registering is Dallo Tech. All our activities are done through this company. For now we just keep our eyes open and try to assess the needs of our society and come up with ideas for tech solutions. So with that we heard about SUTC.
We were making a product already but it didn’t seem appropriate for the Nepali community. The second product we developed was more relevant for the Nepali community which was Landchain. We were really excited that KMC themselves had organized a competition that was looking for Urban Tech. Particularly with Nepal there were a lot of areas where the government sector could have been involved. We felt like people were always more focused on the private sector and we were more interested in working with the government. So this competition made things easier because it was organized by the government themselves.
So when we were looking for projects to work on, we felt like land transactions were very complicated and there was a need to increase security and technology in that sector. We wanted things to be more secure and transparent which would help with good governance as well as benefit the public. So that’s why pitched landchain.
Landchain is a platform that helps maintain the gap between the buyer and seller. The government has a lot of involvement in this transaction as well. So we wanted to connect these components of the governmental procedures and the transaction between the buyer and seller on one platform. Initially, during the selection we were selected for the top 150 ideas. They needed us to make a prototype, so we made a web portal for governmental use and an app for public use which brought us to the top 24 ideas.
2. So is your app is ready for public use?
We have a prototype that’s ready. Since the project is affiliated with the government, there’s a lot of sensitive public data involved. So we have the prototype for the web portal and app ready but we will need a significant investment, technology and other things before it becomes a fully functional system.
3. Government support? Has this delayed things?
Yes. We went to the MalPot and Napi a lot of times and received a lot more support than we had anticipated. Some people were very interested and others weren’t interested at all. We discovered that the Nepali government is quite advanced in terms of technology involved with land records. And they were interested in the transparency aspect of this system
4. Did you talk to other land-related ideas from the SUTC? Would you be interested in collaborating with these other groups?
Yes of course, why wouldn’t we be interested? We stay in touch with a lot of other people from the completion as well. But even they have some complaints about the competition. We have a meet up of the blockchain community. And they also feel like there is no further investment or collaboration at the end of the competition. But the government plays such a huge role in these projects that nothing is going to move forward without their help.
5. But you must have received some recognition from the competition?
Some people approached us during the competition as everyone really liked our idea. But at the end of the day, it’s entirely up to the government. So, if they don’t invest in the idea then it won;t really matter.
6. Tell us more about your project and the website.
We know that the Nepali Government already has digital data on land ownership information. We just want to find a way to connect that data to the general public in a seamless, secure and transparent way. Right now, a group of high ups have the power to manipulate the information and we can’t know. With our system this cannot be done, and if it is done everyone would find out about it. As a user I can use my citizenship to register on the app and once they have established my identity they can associate my land with my identity. So I can see what my ownership is. Then if I’m interested in selling a piece of land I can list it for sale (open data) and so it becomes visible to buyers on the same platform. The buyer can view the location and price of the land. Once they decide to purchase the land they can contact the seller to contact them. The seller can decide whom to contact and then proceed with the transaction. Most of the transaction can be done through the app and it is only the final phase where they absolutely have to go to malpot together to verify the purchase. At this point the app schedules the timing for them as well.
Once the transaction is complete, that’s where the blockchain comes in. There is a digital lalpurja, which removes the need to carry a lalpurja with you everywhere you go. There is a serial number that acts as a reference to the document. Any kind of money laundering or other fraudulent activities can be avoided because it can track land ownership and transactions for three generations. So now with this product, a land transaction which right now would take months, could be handled in a day.
7. What do you need to implement this idea?
We just need cooperation from the government. Like the controversy in Baluwatar it was designed to avoid such activities. They see our vision, they see the importance of using blockchain technology for this. But if they would help us start on a small scale somewhere, it would be a great place to start. It has to start somewhere.
There are 10 people in our organization right now. Another product we’re developing is that the .com.np domain is freely available. We should use that domain. Instead of CVs we can just use that domain as a free interface.
8. Do you have any message for future entrepreneurs?
We are young and we’re the future of Nepal. And if we want the country we dream about then we have to be here and build it for ourselves. Every sector is developing, even if it’s slow. Our job is to make that development rapid and technology plays a major role in doing that. So we need to think of ideas that can make Nepal a digital hub. We just need some time and patience and there will be an outcome.
For more information about Landchain, please connect with Sagar Bhusal at email@example.com.
Interviewed and article by Jyotika Shah.