Future Gazing – industry experts debate what’s next in PropTech

Search AcumenBy Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director, Search Acumen

We recently held a series of stimulating roundtables to reflect on the PropTech landscape and the potential of future innovations.

We invited representatives from HM Land Registry (HMLR), Leverton, an Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning technology company, International Property Network (IPN), a blockchain property technology firm, research-led Artificial Intelligence company, Eigen Technologies,   and also representatives from some of the country’s leading law firms to discuss hot-button issues in the digitisation of the property sector.

The conversations were enlightening, robust and most importantly, left us all with the feeling that as an industry, there is a lot to be excited about.

On blockchain…

“Identity checks come up all the time in transaction process, with blockchain it’s easier, more transparent and only has to happen once.”

The roundtables examined how blockchain will not only be workable within our current system but will also offer more transparency during the property transaction process, easing the burden of fraud compliance.

“Organisations like Land Registry have a reputation for trust, but in other parts of the world, that doesn’t exist and that’s where blockchain becomes valuable. You don’t need that third party trust anymore.”

Lots of the blockchain discussion was around how it’ll imbue a new level of trust into the property transaction process. While we already have trust within the system here, participants noted that blockchain will create more confidence in less established registries abroad.

“It’s not about building an application, rather we’re building the communities and the collaboration to make blockchain work.”

The discussions stressed that for blockchain to work, there needs to be full public and private collaboration. Simply, it’s only going to work if we all collaborate and push in the same direction.

On machine learning…

“Machine learning has the potential to go beyond plucking out data points.”

We heard much about how machine learning can do more for property transactions than just scan big data sets. It’ll be able to dig into data and take a step beyond to offer property professionals added dimensions.

“With intelligent deep learning, we can feed in from our property data centre and provide our client base with richer data than just offering a bunch of PDF results.”

We learned how combining datasets could be hugely valuable, but there was agreement that we’ll need guarantors to ensure the quality of the data and the outputs.

“One of machine learning’s biggest challenges is liability. Who is liable for the end result?”

Much debate centred on trust in machine learning’s results and the current need for human oversight and review. Many of those around the table agreed that there is still progress to be made before firms can fully trust in machines.

On the potential for data-led innovation…

“[There is interest] in the ability in joining up disparate data sets across Government for the greater good.”

Land Registry made it clear that it is leading the way in data-led innovation with initiatives like Digital Street, but it is not alone – across government we were told that there is consensus that PropTech is going in the right direction.

 “With Digital Street, we want the communities to take the ideas that come from it and try and see what can be done with them.”

Consensus among the groups was that the digitisation of the property transaction process isn’t just a Government project, but rather a task for all of us, working together. One example of this is the ongoing digitisation of the Local Land Charges (LLC) register. As this is rolled out across local authorities, HMLR has been supported by various industry players, be it through sharing expertise or hardware solutions. It is this collaboration that continues to power the project – for the benefit of both government and industry.


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