Cleveland has a new startup based on blockchain technology.
It’s called Champtitles and it’s the first offering from Ownum LLC, a technology incubator created by auto dealer Bernie Moreno.
At a press conference Friday, March 22, at Ownum’s headquarters in a former car dealership on Brookpark Road, Moreno and Ownum CEO Shane Bigelow, a former managing director of the Cleveland office of New York-based asset manager AB Bernstein, described the Champtitles product as something that will revolutionize the titling of automobiles and eventually boats, motorcycles and other registered vehicles.
“Champtitles is one of those elegant, simple solutions that blockchain is best on,” Moreno said. “Car titles create an enormous amount of friction in a system.”
He said titling a car requires a number of transactions that must be filed publicly — from the car manufacturer to a dealer to a buyer and often a lender and an insurance company.
“It’s a document that proves ownership.” Moreno said. “There’s a lot of paper involved.”
And, he added, it’s still handled the way it has been for decades, taking days or weeks to complete each step. Champtitles will allow transactions to happen instantly.
The target buyers of the software are the state governments that are the repositories for car titles.
A blockchain-based registration system will allow a car manufacturer to get up-to-date information on the owner of a vehicle and a current address in case of a recall, Bigelow said. Currently, notices might be sent to an original owner, even though that person traded in the car to a dealer, who then sold it as a used car to a new owner.
Blockchain is a decentralized digital technology that, its developers and proponents claim, cannot be edited or deleted by anyone but its owner, but that can be available to a large group of people or organizations. It was developed originally as the accounting system for the virtual currency Bitcoin, but its advocates see opportunities for it in areas such as government services, health care, manufacturing and real estate.
Bigelow said the Champtitles technology is ready to go and he hopes to have it operating by the fall in several states.
Moreno, who is moving out of the auto business to focus on technology-based businesses, is also the moving force behind the Blockland Cleveland movement, an effort to make Cleveland a tech hub.
Champtitles is the first of several blockchain-based solutions Ownum is developing. The next, in keeping with Moreno’s auto dealer background, is Tech Tags, for annual auto registrations. Other concepts in the works are Vital Chain, to bring birth and death certificates into the blockchain universe, and DigiCredits, a system for state and local government to track tax credits issued to attract new businesses.