The spread of COVID-19 forced many real estate agents to look to technology as a way to stay safe and keep up with the buying and selling demand. Many of these trends that started in 2020 will continue into the new year. The proptech industry has grown significantly in the past few years, and 2021 will be no different.
Along with an increased focus on agents’ safety and security, proptech trends will likely include a higher reliance on drones (and improved technology), more automation, and advancement in AI. Here is what real estate agents can look for in terms of property technology trends in 2021.
Proptech used for safety
Even before the pandemic brought on new safety concerns, security has always been top-of-mind for agents. A National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2017 Member Safety Survey found that 44% of female agents and one in four male agents had experienced a situation in the past year that made them fear for their safety or the safety of their personal information. Technologies such as wearables, panic buttons, and background identity checkers are all used to keep agents safe.
In addition to security concerns, the new challenge is keeping agents and customers safe from spreading COVID-19. Technology will be one solution to this problem.
We’re likely to see more virtual reality tours, as well as improvements in these technologies. Platforms such as EyeSpy360 already allow agents to create entirely virtual showings. As we move away from open houses, smart lock systems such as Sentrilock and Prempoint mean agents do not need to meet face-to-face with clients. In 2021, agents will likely rely on these tools more, so possibly more players will enter the market, and we’ll probably see new, upgraded features from existing tools.
IoT will be instrumental in this trend as well. Beacon technology, for example, can allow potential buyers to view a property before the agent arrives. Beacons are Bluetooth devices placed around a property to transmit information. When a client enters the beacon range, their phone receives the signal, and the viewers will get a link to begin viewing. Whereas once this technology was a nice-to-have, it may become more popular with social distancing regulations.
More drone use
Drone use has grown in popularity over the last few years. Surveys found 83% of home sellers (soldbyairdotcom) prefer an agent who uses drones. It’s difficult to capture images of large properties without drone use, and even small properties often show better when using aerial footage. Drone use will likely grow in 2021 due to consumer demand as well as more capabilities such as 3D mapping. The commercial drone market is expected to see exponential growth in 2021, with real estate agents taking advantage of this upgraded technology.
Automation has long been a trend in the real estate world, but 2021 will be a perfect time to automate efforts. Because of social distancing guidelines, agents scrambled to find ways to automate processes. Many of these processes, such as digitizing documents, e-signatures, and smart documentation, will become the norm.
Whereas parts of real estate processes must be done in person, other procedures, such as payments, do not. Some in the real estate world may also turn to the blockchain to automate paperwork. This would then provide a heightened level of security for buyers and sellers.
Other automation steps such as social media marketing, calendar automation, and CRMs will continue in the new year as agents find a better way to work.
Next year we’re likely to see many AI technologies used for proptech trend watching. Using historical trends and current data, agents can find out what a house is worth — and perhaps more importantly, what it will be worth in years to come. Buyers and sellers will rely on agents to provide accurate calculations of a property’s value, as well as neighborhood trends and potential changes.
AI and machine learning are already changing property portals by matching buyers’ search criteria with relevant properties more accurately. This upgraded technology simplifies the search process for buyers by delivering more suitable results.
Focusing on proptech
Like many other industries, real estate is seeing technological upgrades to meet with COVID-19 regulations. 2021 will be an interesting year for proptech, especially since a digital transformation in the real estate industry has been in the works for the past few years.
Real estate agents that take advantage of upgraded technologies will undoubtedly gain a competitive edge in the market. This edge is beneficial now, given that buyers and sellers are, at times, forging agents in favor of online buying and selling options. However, like the previous years, the real estate industry will likely continue to see a digital transformation as new tech players enter the market, offering better ways of working.
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Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!
Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!