US County Issuing Marriage Licenses on the Ethereum Blockchain

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Newlyweds in Washoe County, Nevada have been unwittingly taking part in a pilot scheme where their marriage licenses were recorded not just in the local register, but also on the Ethereum blockchain. Since April 2018, happy couples tying the knot in the county have been receiving certificates by email in addition to the usual paper certificates, citing their transaction hash and a link to their special day on a distributed ledger. Since the first couple got both their intentions towards each other and their Ethereum transaction confirmed, some 1,000 marriages have received the blockchain treatment as part of the trial.

With This Ring and Signature, I Thee Wed…

The digitization of marriage certificates is the result of a link-up between Washoe County and San Francisco-based startup Titan Seal, whose aim is to help governments put their records on the blockchain, making them immutable, easily accessible, and available forever. The digital certificate includes a copy of the original written certificate, which is kept at the records office as normal, as well as a Titan Seal stamp with the transaction address (tx hash), which made the communion official. This means that should the original records be destroyed, another copy would be easily obtainable, or at the very least the records can be easily verified.

Rings Around The World

Titan Seal’s pilot scheme has been well received not just in Washoe, but in other counties too – the company claim they are close to finalizing a deal with one of the largest counties in America to do the same with its real estate records. They are also known to be actively searching for a DMV partner to give driving licenses the digital ledger treatment. The revolution doesn’t stop there – Elko County, also in Nevada, has recently started its own trial putting birth certificates on the blockchain.
The union of official records and blockchain highlights one of the technology’s greatest use cases, and not just in the west. Individuals in developing nations know all too well how property deeds can mysteriously disappear or be illegally altered when they are questioned about the ownership of their land, so registering house and land deeds on the blockchain would render questions of ownership irrelevant. Similarly in the west, boundary disputes could be resolved by a computer in seconds with access to an immutable record of land ownership. In fact, Wyoming County is trialing a scheme to record land and property ownership on the blockchain.

The Sexiness Always Suffers

Marriage licenses, birth and death records, and land ownership may not be as sexy as the bling and the lambos associated with cryptocurrency, but they represent a fantastic case for distributed ledger technology. Plus, it could be just the right way to go about convincing non-enthusiasts about the merits of blockchain without them noticing they are using it.