Centaline, Microsoft harness blockchain for HK property market

Photo courtesy of Centaline

Centaline Property Agency in Hong Kong has partnered with Microsoft to use blockchain and cloud technology to streamline time-consuming paperwork.

All the necessary forms for buying, selling, renting, or letting can be completed securely and conveniently online via a new app.

Blockchain that runs on Microsoft Azure adds a level of trust and professionalism to the process. Agents send links to the relevant documents to buyers and vendors or landlords and tenants, who can sign digitally — from anywhere.

“We have customers all over the world — even some residing as far away as Canada — who are keen to buy properties in Hong Kong,” said Tomy Pang, Centaline Data Technology’s CEO. 

“With blockchain, they no longer need to take a flight to Hong Kong to sign documents and can now do that securely on their mobile phones,” Pang said.

According to Centaline, within just a few months of being available, the usage rate for this blockchain solution has already surpassed 20% and reaching as high as 40% in some regions. Centaline expects this uptake to keep growing.

Pang says customers are not that concerned about how exactly blockchain works. They just want “an efficient and fast way to sign cumbersome paperwork,” and to know that their personal details are secure.

Centaline has found a solid business case for using blockchain. Streamlining the paperwork process has made everything faster. More properties online translate into more sales. And, agents can manage more properties at any given time.

Looking ahead, the company is moving its systems to the Microsoft Azure cloud. It plans to expand blockchain and data analytics to take its service to the next level.

Eventually, Pang sees a time when all of Hong Kong’s paper agreements will be digitalized, creating new business opportunities from the deployment of data analytics and artificial intelligence. For example, Centaline anticipates having real-time knowledge of what properties are hot and who should be targeted for ads.