According to real estate investment company JLL, the value of investable commercial property worldwide will hit US$65 trillion by 2020. Nearly a third of that, it stated in a recent report, will be in the Asia Pacific region.
We are entering the last year of this decade. Technology shapes our everyday life and is pivotal to every industry. Real estate is no exception.
The JLL report goes on to show that, of the $7.8 billion poured into proptech (property technology) between 2013 and June of 2017, 61% of that was in the Asia Pacific region. It is truly the global centre of real estate innovation.
What’s more, Cambodia could be ground zero for proptech. Estimates for 2018 put the number of active mobile phone connections at around 19 million. Indeed, many of those are smartphone connections.
But which technologies are going to change the face of real estate?
Everyone has seen the flashy virtual reality (VR) headsets put out by Oculus and HTC. We are now seeing that these aren’t just devices for video games. In fact, real estate businesses are already using them to give virtual tours.
Yu Kobayashi is the CEO of Lastmile Works, a Phnom Penh tech startup which is creating interactive apps that allow users to explore buildings and even entire cities in the virtual space.
“The experience is more useful than a brochure or animation. The user can really experience it [the space]. Some of them even buy the property without ever seeing it in person,” Kobayashi said.
Blockchain has hit the headlines because it is the technology behind bitcoin. However, cryptocurrency is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to blockchain. Contracts and agreements can be distributed across the globe with the technology. Indeed, entire properties have already been traded on blockchain networks.
Official and commercial uses of cryptocurrency are technically illegal in Cambodia after a joint statement issued by the National Bank of Cambodia in June. So, projects now exist in a grey area. The ubiquity of financial scamming was cited as a reason for the ban.
In Mean, founder of the Khmer Crypto Foundation, and Chhay Lem, founder of Serey, a blockchain-based content network, both expressed the urge to educate people in the Kingdom about the technology behind blockchain.
“Blockchain is the future, and we are using it to create a space for discussion that is completely open and free,” Lem said.
As cities like Phnom Penh offer more and more job opportunities, they grow in size. With a larger population comes the potential for more detailed studies of the market.
The idea of big data is quite new. In a report on the topic from earlier this year, real estate group CBRE claimed that urban big data was about three V’s: volume, velocity and variety.
Cambodia’s capital is home to nearly two million. The amount of data and information about anything from transactions to food preferences is staggering.
Despite noting challenges with regards to privacy, usability and human capital, the report clearly states that Asia could be the most vital region for big data.
“Many of the most impressive examples of the application of big data techniques are in Asia — China in particular, but also Korea.”
Though many tech developments have been slow to catch on in Cambodia, there is momentum growing. Often people in the country get their first internet connection through a mobile phone, leapfrogging personal computers entirely.
Certainly, there is a growing demographic of youth that are eager to get into the tech world. Perhaps many of them will find themselves working in one of these four areas.
Tyler Lebens is a Content Writer @Realestate.com.kh