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Property – the next frontier in digital disruption

InvestmentReal EstateStartupTechnology

Big property players are only now waking up to the potential disruption of their day-to-day lives, as the global PropTech industry is witnessing rapid expansion. A 2018 global survey from KPMG shows, 60 per cent of decision makers in the property industry think technology will have a very significant impact on their sector. And about 25 per cent see the PropTech scene as both a threat and an opportunity.

One such disruptor is Estater, makers of a PropTech app which has recently celebrated its entry into the Bahrain marketplace as part of its ambitious expansion plans in the region. A revolutionary real estate technology concept, the Estater app offers a platform for listing, sharing, finding or managing a property. The app operates as an extension to Estater’s real estate advisory offering, utilising sophisticated Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping to provide market intelligence for developers, investors and financiers.

Thanks to its extensive regional database, the company has already amassed a 20 per cent market share in Kuwait and Bahrain, in addition to its flagship operations in India. It has perfectly timed its entry into Bahrain as the Kingdom’s real estate sector grew by 3.2% in the first nine months of 2018, according to the Bahrain Economic Development Board’s Economic Quarterly Report. The sector has long been an important contributor to the Bahraini economy, especially as it has increasingly diversified away from oil.

Expansion in Bahrain continues apace, with the retail and hospitality sectors set to undertake a number of ambitious projects across the country. Adding to this, Bahrain’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) is strengthening the overall sector with greater transparency and streamlined processes, paving the way for a digital overhaul of the industry.

The adoption of PropTech has been slow across the region, although globally the segment is making waves. Between 2012 and 2017 alone, PropTech saw funding rise by a compound annual growth rate of 63 per cent, according to Venture Scanner. Growth is expected to accelerate even further as Internet of Things capabilities drive demand for real time data and analytics. Bahrain has laid the foundations for the rapid roll-out of next generation technologies thanks to an early investment in 5G, which will see it become one of the first countries in the world to have nationwide 5G coverage in June of this year.

The biggest draw for companies like Estater, is not just the opportunity to transform Bahrain’s legacy industries, but to benefit from its thriving technology ecosystem. Bahrain is home to a vibrant regional start-up ecosystem of over 90 companies, supported by a network of government entities dedicated to helping them succeed, including the Economic Development Board, StartUp Bahrain, Tamkeen, Ministry of Industry Commerce and Tourism, and others.

As Estater looks to further expand its operations in the Middle East, it is tapping into a market ripe for disruption, as traditional ways of working are overturned by innovative and digitally-led products and services. If the pace of digital disruption in other industries is anything to go by, the real estate sector in Bahrain and across the region is set for an exciting wave of transformation.