Property continues to be a hot topic in the startup world in Southeast Asia as people turn their attention towards the growing industry. We recently did an overview of the property industry in the region and the general outlook is positive for growth in the market.

To find out what else we can expect from the region, we sat down with industry leaders like Pauline Chong from Cento Ventures and Karl Vaan from BitofProperty.

Cento Ventures is raising a proptech fund, which will focus on APAC (including Southeast Asia) startups that are showing promise. Karl is the CEO of BitOfProperty, which is a real estate investment platform, which enables people to invest in international real estate backed rental property with little capital.

What can we expect from Proptech in Southeast Asia

Pauline Chong
About Pauline Chong – Principal, Cento Ventures

With over 15 years of experience across real estate, renewables and infrastructure, Pauline is leading the Cento Venture’s Proptech fund.

Her investor insights provide a strong macro view of the industry.

In the real estate space, consumers can start to see key shifts in the way workspaces are being offered. Increased work mobility and cost management pressure by businesses to house flexible workforces have accelerated the number of co-working spaces. These co-working providers will compete intensely to constantly improve value-added services and tenant experience. A positive outcome for consumers (SMEs, direct tenants and floating staff of large organizations) is increased choice and an increasingly global footprint of workplaces to operate from.

2019 will see further innovation in the way residential housing is being transacted. Multiple models ranging from direct sales to hybrid agency models combining online and offline services are reinventing the way real estate is being transacted. There is no winning model as yet in Asia but a key outcome will be improved informational and transactional tools to assist property agents, leading to improved customer experience in a housing transaction.

We also see the burgeoning of “backend proptech” companies coming to market. Startups focused around leasing, property management, asset management, legal documentation, financing and home ownership are being created to resolve fundamental issues within the real estate value chain. Increased awareness for environmental sustainability will also propel adoption of technology to improve air quality, building maintenance and energy and water usage in fixed assets.

Karl Vaan, BitofProperty
Karl Vaan, CEO and Co-Founder of BitofProperty

Karl has built a successful startup with two rounds of fundraising complete and also successfully closing three crowdfunding campaigns for properties on the BitofProperty portal.

We’ve spoken to Karl before about his journey and vision for the property industry, and he took time to share his thoughts on the future of the industry.

This blockchain-powered startup is revolutionising the property investment industry and their insights into the technological disruption in the industry is from the ground-level as part of the wave of change.

Since 2016, investments in the Proptech industry have tripled and this does not take into account ICO funding over the years. The Proptech industry is definitely an interesting space which people should keep their eye on, whether or not they are coming from an investment perspective. There are many innovations that affect consumer-facing tools that we use or are going to use in our daily lives. If you take a deep dive into Proptech, you will also discover various companies who focus on the commercial, construction and development aspect of it. As BitOfProperty is in a blockchain and real estate investment space, the following are my suggestions on what is coming up next in this side of the industry.

In the past two years, there has been a lot of buzz around blockchain and how it will change the real estate industry. After the 2017 ICO craze, many companies developed the idea to tokenise property and use smart contracts to make transactions more safe and transparent. In 2018, those companies have had a chance to work on their product. This means that 2019 is the year when we should see the first success stories of how these companies have solved the problem stated in their whitepapers. As part of Proptech, this consists of both real estate and cryptocurrency/blockchain aspects, but it all comes down to one question: Can these companies provide real value to the real estate ecosystem?

Another interesting topic where people should have their eye on is current land registries being moved to blockchain. This is definitely a challenge for governments; both from the IT perspective but also ensuring that the transfer justifies itself as the project would be costly and requires a lot of testing. This technology is new with no precedent. We are already seeing the first cases in Sweden, Finland and the UK but it is interesting to keep an eye on which country will be next to do so and how they are solving the issues arising from the transfer.