In Asia, instead of having breakthrough startups, the change often starts top down. In other words, companies and cities are the ones who lead the change. For example, Singapore-based mall operator Capitaland has a chatbot called Sparkle on its app that responds to shoppers’ queries and makes reservations or hails a ride from its malls. Taipei has partnered with India’s Andhra Pradesh to use blockchain to upgrade their digital offerings and protect their residents’ from land fraud.
Similar to the U.S., PropTech in Asia also started with the online property listing services, such as PropertyGuru, a Singapore-based listing marketplace. Then, the so-called PropTech 2.0 emerged in 2013 to address the needs of small businesses and brokers. Startups like Propstack, a commercial property intelligence platform based in India, provided tools that improved decision-making.
According to JLL, since 2014 PropTech in Asia entered phase 3.0 led by startups employing emergent technology such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and solar power to address enterprise needs. An example is QwikSpec’s cloud-based platform for field inspection and data analytics.
BloT, the convergence of blockchain and the Internet of Things, is another growing application for blockchain. BloT would allow entities to access real-time data from sensors while the data is protected with blockchain distributed cryptography. Even still, blockchain is facing resistance from some Asian governments, most notably China, for its association with cryptocurrency. One of the largest cryptocurrency exchange, BTCChina was shutdown in September 2017 by the government.
There are many explanations for the technological progress that is being made in Asian real estate. Rapid urbanization, the emergence of the middle class and millennials, improved talent pool as well as government support in some countries all play a role. PropTech in Asia Pacific has quickly gone from being on the outskirts of the real estate technology revolution to one of its main stages.