What is PropTech?

Introducing PropTech

PropTech (Property Technology) is the name given to technological innovations that are developed for and implemented within the property industry.

At the same time, PropTech refers to the industry, or movement, that the innovation comes out of;  The PropTech Industry.

In any discussion about PropTech, one must focus on both the outcome, PropTech, and the cause, the Digital Transformation of the built environment. One will not exist without the other.

The PropTech Industry has been driving huge change and deep discussion over the last few years, bringing together an audience of like minded people to better advance the best practices of the property industry.

But PropTech is just one aspect of the Digital Transformation, the global adoption of technology, a force with a far larger agenda than simply property.

The Digital Transformation is affecting every industry on the planet; as such, it affects the vast majority of individuals too. The role that the PropTech community is playing, and must continue to do so, is to represent the property industry’s interests during this period of Digital Transformation

To do so, it must succeed in educating the wider property industry as to the importance of facing their digital future, whilst simultaneously protecting the industry and its customers from any potential harmful disruption coming from the world of tech, only allowing the best and most genuinely helpful innovations to enter the market.

In the context of a fire, PropTech is the accelerant needed to spark the flames, but the Digital Transformation is the embers that keep it burning through the night.

Asked to define PropTech at a recent conference I came up with a small statement which, after much consideration with a fellow panelist Professor Andrew Baum, author of the PropTech 3.0 report, we decided on the following:

Defining PropTech

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PropTech is one small part of the wider digital transformation of the property industry. It describes a movement driving a mentality change with the real estate industry and its consumers regarding technology-driven innovation in the data assembly, transaction, and design of buildings. – Baum & Dearsley, 2017.

Because the term ‘PropTech’ is so wide reaching; a movement, a gathering, and a noun, it’s important to analyse this definition closely to offer a truly comprehensive answer to; what is PropTech?

PropTech is one part of Digital Transformation

PropTech is not the only industry contributing to the digital modernisation of the property industry. Rather, it is just one small part of the Digital Transformation which is literally and simply defined as “the change associated with the application of digital technology[1]”.

As such, if property professionals want to remain knowledgeable about the current and future state of the industry and the innovations that are going to disrupt the traditional way of doing things, they must take in a much broader picture than just PropTech.

Professionals must, for example, be aware of innovation and progress happening in robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of Things (IoT). All of these industries, plus many more, will, without question, have an affect on the property industry.

It is only by understanding both these more futuristic notions of the property market and those, more immediate aspects of technological change; mobile website optimisation and CRM systems being two examples, that you can truly understand Digital Transformation.

The Digital Transformation is a process of change, one which is neither simple nor quick. It’s a process that often occurs over a  5-10 year period and drives change in many core pillars of an organisation’s structure.

The three most common targets for change are mentality, culture, and operating systems. Arguably, it is the mentality of industry professionals that is most in need of immediate disruption; at the same time, it is also the most difficult change to implement.

PropTech is a Mentality Change

Vitally important to understanding what PropTech is, is to see it not only as a technological movement, but as an entire mentality change.

The advancement of the property industry, in this age of the digital revolution, requires not only industry professionals but also the general public to change the way they think about property’s best practices.

Consumers are now used to digitised businesses. On the whole, they are comfortable with online processes and procedures, often shunning traditional, more stunted systems in favour of fluent and efficient technological ones.

As proof of this, one only needs to glance at the world of payment services. The rise of, and acceptance of, chip and pin, and contactless, has been incredibly fast. Consumers want ease and fluidity, but they also want trust. Whilst, for the finance and banking industries, this move must have required a huge mentality change, they did a good job of acting quickly and ensuring that consumer trust for new methods was won quickly and smoothly.

Whilst the act of buying or letting properties is far more complex than, for example, tapping a card to buy coffee,  the process of reaching the final act is slow and laborious. The property industry needs to make make the process as seamless and secure as possible. This is what the modern consumer demands.

Property is often considered an industry stuck in time. Best practices have long been the same; why change it now? has often been the attitude.  However, not only does this attitude cause problems for new startups in the sector, constantly butting heads with archaic mentalities, but it also results in inefficiencies running throughout the sector.

Another issues that this leaves the property industry with is, how does one attract the best technological talent to a sector that is seen as so old fashioned? Where systems are built on old platforms and Excel spreadsheets still dominate?

PropTech is about Innovation; both Endogenous and Exogenous

As stated by Professor Baum in PropTech 3.0[2], PropTech is is both endogenous and exogenous.

  • Endogenous

Endogenous technology is that which comes from within the property industry. For the most part, the technology that we have seen in property so far has been endogenous.

Such technology tends to focus on the streamlining of the property industry’s workflow and best practices. Common examples are property listings (Zoopla, Rightmove), online estate agents (Purplebricks and eMoov), and various software packages that are there to increase efficiencies in already existing processes.

For the next few years, most of property’s innovation will be endogenous. They will be created mainly by property people to help property people.

  • Exogenous

Exogenous technology is that which comes from outside of, but still takes effect on, the property industry and possibly offers the most risk to the industry.

Examples include Virtual Reality, which will completely change the way that properties are marketed and designed, and Artificial Intelligence, which will disrupt the way we understand and interpret our data and how the built environment works from day to day – which parts of the building are wasting energy, which rooms are going unused, and how best to increase potential returns on investments.

Data is said to be the new oil but if you consider the amount of data coming out of our buildings as the mass of sensors takes over. A system will be required to monitor all data, interpret the results and then instigate necessary changes. AI has the possibility to do all this and will be built be people not necessarily positioned in the property sector but whom will hold tremendous power over the sector.

Applications of Exogenous technology are so vast that they warrant an article, or rather articles, of their own.

It is expected that exogenous technology will really start to disrupt the property industry in the longer term, but that won’t make their arrival any less disruptive. In fact, exogenous technology very much sits in the boat of Amara’s law; we overestimate change in the short term but underestimate its impact in the longer term.

PropTech is about buildings and cities

With a combined asset value of $217 trillion[3] the property market and the potential for innovation within it is huge.

It is often considered on a much smaller level i.e. consideration of a single PropTech company impacting a single small aspect of the property process. This is particularly the case on more endogenous technologies.

Looking at a single home or building in isolation is by no means wrong, but the combined impact of all singular assets together is something more exciting; greater than the sum of its parts.

Most of the smaller projects in PropTech are often viewed on a private interest level, singular buildings or developments, for example.  But it’s when we move on from thinking about buildings and start thinking about city-wide transformation that things get really interesting. However,  the globe is currently battling a huge urbanisation challenge.

The proportion of the global population living in cities as opposed to the countryside exceeded the 50% threshold in 2008 and, by the 2030s, it is estimated five of the World’s eight to nine billion people will live in cities, many of them in slums[4]. This means there is a governmental agenda to deal with PropTech on a city level.

This is important for many reasons, but fundamentally it suggests that funding will be made available and that the attitude of looking at technology as a means to aid city development is going to be pivotal. It is at the top of government agenda and therefore PropTech needs to be taking advantage of that and delivering the innovations that will drive the required change.

In conclusion; PropTech is people.

The end goal of PropTech is to best prepare the property industry for the digital future and then maintain its prosperity thereafter.

But, because the property industry is very much a people-first industry, PropTech must do more than simply innovate and disrupt. It must understand its role in the broader picture, it must educate and mediate, it must listen to the needs of professionals and consumers, it must not disrupt for the sake of disruption. It must aid private businesses to run more efficiently, with greater returns, whilst simultaneously working to address and solve current societal issues such as sustainability and affordable housing.

PropTech will, once technology is fully accepted and implemented, become known simply as ‘property’. The two will no longer need different titles because technology will be the norm rather than the new.

To reach that point, and this might be the most important fact of all, PropTech must show to the world that it is not a rival to the property industry, but rather a set of tools designed to help the industry, and those who work within in, perform to the highest possible standard.

PropTech is not the replacement of humans with machines; it is the utilisation of modern technology to enhance the abilities, speed, and efficiency of those who sell, buy, maintain, manage, work within, live within and make their living from property.

And because so much of our world and quality of life revolves around the built environment, PropTech has a responsibility to wield its considerable power thoughtfully and compassionately, for PropTech not only carries the responsibility of strengthening the property industry, but it is also a vital component for making the the world a better, safer, and more prosperous place for all.

[1] “Digital transformation – Wikipedia.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_transformation. Accessed 14 Nov. 2017.

[2] PropTech 3.0: The future of Real Estate,  Professor Andrew Baum & The University of Oxford https://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Press_Office/Images/proptechreport/PropTech%203%20-%20The%20Future%20of%20Real%20Estate.pdf 

[3] “Savills World Research: How Much Is The World Worth?.” 24 Apr. 2017, http://www.mcguire.com/blog/2017/04/savills-world-worth/. Accessed 15 Nov. 2017.

[4] “World Urbanization Prospects – the United Nations.” https://esa.un.org/unpd/wup/publications/files/wup2014-highlights.pdf. Accessed 15 Nov. 2017.

This article is written by James Dearsley, Founder, PropTech Consult. He is a keynote speaker at PropTech Middle East 2018, being held on 29-30 October 2018, at Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, UAE.

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Dialling up Speed, Growth, efficiency in Lending

In common with other industries, banking customers are increasingly making mobile their preferred mode of banking. According to EY’s GCC Digital Banking Report, the future of retail banking in the Gulf countries is a smartphone experience that delights and up to 64% of GCC customers would feel comfortable switching to a digital-first bank, with less reliance on branch network. In their Mobile banking report, KPMG states that mobile is already the largest banking channel for the majority of global banks by volume of transactions and by 2019, the number of mobile banking users is expected to double, reaching 1.8 billion people.

Innovative, useful and customer-centric mobile services will be key criteria when consumers choose their banking partner and banks must leverage the power of mobile in lending. Go through this infographic on “Dialling up speed, growth and efficiency in Lending” to know about the key market trends in mobile based lending, customer preferences and how lenders can transform their businesses to capitalize on the opportunity.

Nucleus Software will be showcasing its solutions at the upcoming Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2017 being held on 18-19 September at Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa.

NucleusSoftware_Lending Mobility Infographic

QGBC’S Vision For Creating A Smart And Healthy City

Qatar is currently witnessing unprecedented urban development, from the establishment of Lusail City and the development of downtown Doha, to the inception of numerous infrastructure projects, the need to incorporate smart technologies in city planning in an effort to move towards establishing a healthy city is becoming vital.

Retrofitting Doha to become a truly smart city requires the development of a comprehensive long-term strategy with active participation from all the relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors. In Doha’s context, a smart city will fully support healthy living in all aspects including water and energy conservation, healthy air quality, increased community interaction and active lifestyle. The use of state-of-the-art technologies, such as smart water management system, intelligent and automated air, noise and waste management systems, and real-time communication mechanisms, will eventually help Doha move closer to realizing its vision of a smart and healthy city.

In an effort to conceptualize the development of a smart and healthy city amidst the ongoing infrastructural development, experts at Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), last year devised a comprehensive guide ‘Doha: A Rough Guide to Healthy Cities’.  The Guide, http://qatargbc.org/interest-groups/green-infrastructure, tackles the issue of the environmental health of urban areas which is becoming increasingly important to the world’s population as a majority of people are shifting towards inner cities.

Highlighting the benefits of planning and designing a healthy city, the non-technical infographic provides design and planning professionals, senior school students and advocates of sustainable development, with interesting guidelines on how to create a healthy city.

The key for QGBC and relevant stakeholders is to foster education around this subject to help create behavioural change in the process. This infographic is a starting point for such practices, which need to be further highlighted through national dialogues, the likes of Arab Future Cities Summit, the Qatar Green Building Conference, and the Qatar Sustainability Week.  Such efforts will foster the development of green infrastructure as a national resource capable of delivering a wide range of environmental, economic and social benefits.

by Meshal Al Shamari, Director – QGBC

2015 & beyond: How Visa is driving the future of payments

Hadi Raad, Head of Emerging Products and Innovation at Visa CEMEA

Hadi Raad, Head of Emerging Products and Innovation at Visa CEMEA

Hadi Raad, Head of Emerging Products and Innovation at Visa CEMEA (Central Europe, Middle East and Africa), describes how Visa is breaking new grounds with its vision to keep consumers connected in a global village by constantly developing and innovating fast and simple ways for everyone, everywhere, to be pay and be paid easily and securely.

Imagine being stuck in traffic after work, and hungry, wondering how long it will be before you can get home and prepare dinner. Familiar? Now what if the car you were driving allowed you to order your dinner – and pay for it – AND notify the store to keep your food ready for when you whizz by. Sounds like something in the future? Not quite. What you just read is the Connected Car commerce experience that Visa, in conjunction with Pizza Hut and Accenture, unveiled at the World Mobile Congress (WMC) in Barcelona earlier this year. Led by Visa, the “Connected Car commerce experience” combines cutting-edge payment security and payment convenience with mobile and wireless technologies that turn an ordinary vehicle into a frictionless mobile payment machine.

For those of you who attended the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit in Dubai this September, you would’ve experienced the Connected Car for yourselves.

While the connected car concept is based on being able to order food on the move from a fast food restaurant, Visa Checkout – one of the components of the connected car concept – can work in many other every-day situations such as fuel, parking and vending machines.

Visa’s commitment to innovation is driven by the need to uphold Visa’s vision of building digital acceptance structures globally. With the expansion of eCommerce and new technologies, consumers want convenience and security when purchasing their goods. Visa Checkout – a recent Visa innovation – does just that.

Visa Checkout is a quick and easy payment service to pay for goods online, on any device, in just a few clicks. Since its launch in the US in July this year, response has been exceptionally positive.

We polled people who had actually used Visa Checkout and 95% of them felt it was very easy to transact with it and 96% felt it was very secure[1].

Visa Checkout is 22% faster than a traditional online checkout process. We believe because of the ease and convenience, conversion rates from customers who browsed to those who bought those items are 66% higher than when they use traditional payment methods. Coupled with the fact that an average Visa Checkout average transaction size is 7% higher, these all point to how people will use a technology that makes sense to their needs and which in turn increases online and mobile sales for merchants.

We recently launched Visa Checkout in both the UAE and South Africa, and apart from our other global markets, there are plans to roll out the service to seven additional markets within the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) region in 2016. More issuers around the world are also offering Visa Checkout. In the UAE, for example, Mashreq, Emirates NBD, Majid Al Futtaim Finance, Dubai Islamic Bank, and Emirates Islamic Bank are all offering Visa Checkout to their cardholders to enable fast, secure online shopping from anywhere.

While Visa Checkout is making strides in new markets, another of our new innovations – Visa’s Token Service – is fast becoming a global standard for enabling digital experiences. Launched in September last year, the Visa Token Service aims to keep online and mobile payments safe and seamless. Tokenization replaces sensitive payment account information (such as the 16-digits found on plastic cards) with a digital account number or token. Allocating a token or unique code to an online or mobile payment reduces the risk of fraud because the technology in its simplest terms does not allow sensitive data to pass through Visa’s secure network.

Partnering with device players is critical to enable simple payment experiences. Visa’s Token Service underpins Apple Pay and Samsung Pay – neither of these two innovations would be what they are without tokenization. It’s the finest example of security by design.

In addition, Visa Token Service makes it simpler for issuer banks to launch their own mobile payment service. We’re excited about the potential of Visa Token Service powering digital payment experiences, and have already started supporting our partners in CEMEA, starting in the UAE, in their tokenization journey. Through our work with several issuing banks across the region, consumers will be able to use their mobile devices securely and conveniently for in-store payments, whether through their bank’s own mobile apps or eventually third party wallets.

More recently, we announced Visa Digital Enablement Program (VDEP), which builds on our secure Visa Token Service technology and adds a turn-key, toll-free commercial framework. The program connects Visa issuing banks to current and future digital wallet providers without the need to directly contract with a multitude of different vendors.

Through VDEP, financial institutions, merchants and technology companies can drive growth through a simple, scalable commercial construct with no pass-through fees between technology partners and financial institutions. Google, with its Android Pay payment solution, is Visa’s first international program partner in VDEP.

In August, Samsung also joined VDEP. By joining this program, Samsung will be able to ensure financial institutions can offer Samsung Pay in a convenient and scalable manner, which will ultimately help accelerate the availability of Samsung Pay for consumers around the world.

Visa transactions initiated from a consumer device using Android Pay or Samsung Pay will work at any merchant that accepts Visa payWave contactless payments. Issuers will need to sign the VDEP Agreement to use the Visa Token Service to participate in Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and other third-party solutions as they become available, or to enable their own issuer-branded mobile payment apps.

With the expansion of Visa’s Digital Solutions, where does that leave the humble credit card? Could plastic be facing extinction? While the Visa Token Service and Visa Digital Enablement Program are paving the way for electronic payments, many consumers to date still rely on plastic for in-store payments.

While plastic cards are still the main way people transact electronically, the humble plastic card has also evolved. In-store payments are changing with the greater acceptance of contactless payments. Our research indicates that Visa payWave contactless technology is 60% faster than chip signatures and 42% than using a PIN[2]. Contactless payments are growing at triple digital rates in several CEMEA markets, and popularity is growing. For example, Visa payWave already represents 20 percent of transactions in Georgia.

Visa is striving to find the balance between scalability and simplicity. As part of our commitment to innovation, Visa is constantly analysing the market to create products and services that meet the changing needs of consumers. At the same time, however, innovation is not about being bigger and better than our competitors but about continually making the payment journey simple and safe for our customers. Creating a product that adds value to a customer’s life is what dictates how we innovate at Visa.

[1] Millward Brown Visa Checkout Customer Experience, March, 2015; commissioned by Visa. Based on data from an online survey of 1,241 U.S. consumers.

[2] Study by The Leading Edge, commissioned by Visa and conducted in 2010 in the Metropolitan Sydney area, Australia.

Building Smart Cities With The Power Of Cloud

Keynote speech in progress at the Arab Future Cities Summit Dubai 2014

Keynote speech in progress at the Arab Future Cities Summit Dubai 2014

  • Use of cloud computing and analytics to help create smarter cities

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, July 14, 2015: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been a key enabler to drive productivity, improve collaboration and accelerate innovation. Large-scale infrastructure-driven projects have been the key growth drivers for cloud computing, big data, and analytics. Leading IT solution providers are developing their technology and experimenting with cloud-based computing solutions to help governments deliver smart city projects across the globe. Industry reports indicate that there has been a steady year on year increase in government spending on cloud computing facilities. Many governments have embraced the cloud-based platform to interconnect the various facets of a city’s services – infrastructure, public services, government bodies educational and health institutions, that will enable ensure seamless communication.

Armed with a colossal amount of data, governments and private organizations alike are investing heavily in data centers to store data in a centralized platform that will help in more effective knowledge sharing and provide support for better planning and governance in the city. Moreover, it will also help improve efficiency, reduce cost and complexity of building smart city IT infrastructure by efficiently and effectively integrating and supporting the various city operations such as healthcare, traffic, police, fire, citizen services, electricity, water and municipal operations.

Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, said, “Governments across the globe are harnessing the power of technology to develop solutions that will enable them to introduce platforms and applications to significantly improve and increase effectiveness of the citizen-oriented government programs and also help align existing city initiatives.”

To deliver smart city solutions, companies are unleashing the full potential of innovation, and developing tools, infrastructure platforms and integrated solutions using cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies such as sensors and smartphones, that generate maximum city-specific data and help in better city planning and management.

According to an industry report, 10 percent of China’s total IT spending will be directly related to smart city projects. Additionally, the report also indicates that the Middle East is one of the fastest-growing IT markets in the world. The demand for IT in this region is fueled by the government’s roll out of its Smart City initiatives – Smart City Dubai and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi – and other high-profile events such as the Dubai Expo 2020.

He further added, “With the Dubai Smart City project, the country is undoubtedly at the forefront of innovation and transformation. As part of its Smart City initiative, the Dubai government has laid out specific plans under pillars such as Smart Life, Smart Economy and Smart Tourism that aim to offer citizens an enhanced quality of life.”

Adoption of ICT to improve the efficiency and sustainability of cities will be discussed at the 2nd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit. Held under the patronage of the Dubai Municipality, the event will take place on 2-3 November 2015 at Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa.

For more event details, please log on to http://www.smartcitiesdubai.com/

Driverless Cars –The Future Of Mobility

Keynote speech in progress at the Arab Future Cities Summit Dubai 2014

Keynote speech in progress at the Arab Future Cities Summit Dubai 2014

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, June 29, 2015: Cities around the world are coping with issues of traffic congestion due to metropolitan expansion and rising population growth.  To address the common transport challenges and counteract this endemic problem, there is an imperative need to develop congestion management systems and smart transportation systems by enabling technological innovative solutions. The emergence of advanced intelligent solutions and sophisticated sensors in the transport system is enabling cars to communicate with each other thereby increasing consumer safety and enhancing convenience.

While a well-functioned transport system is one that seamlessly connects vehicles, pathways and terminals; however, the transport system of the future will implement discrete technologies and develop advanced automated driving solutions. The transportation sector worldwide is witnessing major technological breakthroughs, the most instrumental being the advent of self-driving vehicles. Considered to be a game changer in the automotive and transport sector, autonomous vehicles will be equipped with sensor-based solutions, global positioning systems, artificial intelligence, and connected-vehicle communications that will ensure increase in vehicle safety and reduce emission. Apart from effortlessly controlling the steering wheel, speed and brake system of the car, the driverless technology also ensures avoiding collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians on the road.

Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, said, “We are indeed on the brink of a technological revolution – smart buildings, delivery drones, smart roadways and now driverless cars. These are all aspects of a smart city. Government authorities worldwide and global technology giants are applying innovative tactics, introducing new policies and utilizing technologies that will help improve the transport systems and cities to ensure greater prosperity and growth and make a sizeable difference in the citizens’ lives.”

Many of the world’s renowned automotive manufacturers have joined hands with global technology players to introduce automated driving solutions. While the United States of America (U.S.A) is at the forefront, becoming the first country to introduce legislation to permit testing of automated vehicles, Japan, Sweden and United Kingdom (U.K) have also jumped the bandwagon and begun hosting driverless car trials on public roads. In the Middle East, the Dubai government has been preparing its infrastructure for electric driverless cars that are expected to be seen on the roads by 2020. The adoption of autonomous cars on roads will cause less traffic congestion, massive reduction in pollution and provide more road safety.

Mr. Hariharan further added, “The concept of self-driving autonomous cars will gain traction in the coming years, and will soon become a reality. It will revolutionize the landscape of urban mobility and bring about a massive transformation to our lives.”

The practicality of adopting driverless cars and implementing smart transportation solutions will be discussed at length at the 2nd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit, held under the patronage of Dubai Municipality, taking place on 2-3 November 2015 at Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa.

For more event details, please log on to http://www.smartcitiesdubai.com/

About Expotrade 

Expotrade is a global conference and event organizer with its head office based in Melbourne, Australia and a regional office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Expotrade has delivered some of the largest, most successful B2B industry conferences and events. For almost 10 years, our unique blend of knowledge, experience and flexibility has accomplished an array of consistently top quality events. Today, Expotrade events enjoy such a distinctive edge, they are amongst the best patronized in the calendar.

For more information, visit http://www.expotradeglobal.com