Utah considering blockchain for vehicle title transfers

Blockchain, the online distributed-ledger technology popularized by cryptocurrency, may soon find its way into Utah state government. Utah state Chief Information Officer Mike Hussey told StateScoop he’s now considering blockchain to replace some of the processes traditionally used when people need to transfer vehicle titles between owners.

It all started, he said, when his own son needed to get a vehicle title transferred into his name.

“The only reason we had to go into a state facility was to transfer the title from the previous owner to my son. I thought certainly there has to be a better way,” Hussey says.

Initially, the state may test the technology on a fleet of state government vehicles. If successful, he anticipates it could become a real initiative that simplifies residents’ lives.

“There will be two tracks, so you can have a digital title or you can have a traditional paper title and we’ll see if those systems work and eventually save millions of dollars for citizens and time,” Hussey says.

While conducting research for the project, Hussey said he learned of just how much time is wasted by the processes currently used by banks.

“They don’t store the title for you when you receive a loan,” he says. “You hand them the title, they shred it. And then at the time you need your title back, they request a duplicate title from the state and they send that back to you. Imagine the time savings and the costs to do all of that if we could just do all of that on blockchain or a technology like that.”

Hussey on IT modernization:

“We were told that our state data center would be moving, so all of the sudden there’s this big push to modernize these legacy systems and we now have some resources available, maybe to even get off our mainframe, to modernize some of our legacy systems before we move those devices and systems to a new data center. So we’re finding that there’s a big push right now to modernize and what was maybe a five-year timeline is now a two-and-a-half year timeline.”

Hussey on workforce:

“One of the things we’re doing is allowing a big telecommuting initiative to make its way through.”

Hussey on how he sees his role changing with emerging technology:

“That’s the nice thing about the role of the CIO, that there is emerging tech that constantly changes what you might look at as the next horizon.”

These videos were produced by StateScoop at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ midyear conference in National Harbor, Maryland, in May 2019.