21 August 2019
How about a marriage contract where the terms can be updated annually? Photo: AFP
How about a marriage contract where the terms can be updated annually? Photo: AFP

Forget prenup, go for blockchain marriage

We want prenup! We want prenup! The line immortalized by Kanye West in Gold Digger has become a siren call for a generation who get married and don’t believe they can trust each other in the future. How about skipping the troubles and fees with lawyers and getting a blockchain wedding smart contract?

We have heard it all before. Google the word “blockchain” and you will get a long list of articles discussing how it will revolutionize music or restaurants or your accounts, blah blah blah … zzzz

Yes, there is a growing trail of skepticism but much of it surrounds bitter cryptocurrency investors expecting to be rich in 2018 but finding out the hard way that digital coins are being manipulated by a number of unseen parties. Good luck finding out when that money is coming your way. HINT: You will wake up one morning to find a Wall Street/Big Government coin dominating the market.

But I digress. The idea for this article came from a Rolling Stone piece about Bitcoin billionaire Brock Pierce, who reportedly has a marriage upheld in an online “smart contract”. You can choose to dissolve, change or renew it annually, and it runs on the blockchain. Using Ethereum, the data is stored with an unhackable audit trail, which can be updated while maintaining a history of the previous data.

It’s an idea that has been going around the web for a while. The joke is that couples will be able to enforce clauses such as “must walk dog at 7:30 p.m.”; “set aside time for date night with lame romance movie”; or “allowed night out with the boys”.

At the moment, in cases of divorce, you either shout at your ex or call up the divorce lawyer for HK$4,000 and get them to write a letter to tell them to bring the kid back on time. Who has time or money to do this?

Our concept of marriage is built on an antiquated system of wealth transfer and underpinned heavily by patriarchy. Many people get divorced because they feel trapped, or their partner has changed or they feel they made a bad decision.

They feel stuck, and in a traditional marriage contract, they can’t do anything about it. So if you could update it annually, well that would be a bit of a godsend, yes?

One of the problems you might find is how to enforce the contract, as smart contracts do not have much of a legal precedence at the moment. However, according to Alex Gruz, creative director at SmartVows, the advantages are manifold: “A marriage certificate is just a paper that can get buried in the clutter in your home. Even worse, it can get lost or tampered with. With a marriage smart contract, that concern is a thing of the past. You can entrench your vows, love, and marriage in the annals of history. This way, it cannot be forgotten or lost.”

– Contact us at [email protected]


EJI contributor

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe