The platform uses blockchain technology provided by TFI and Microsoft Azure cloud services, aiming to give more flexibility to sellers and buyers as well as further enhance the efficiency of second-hand property buying process.
Apart from sellers, buyers, and real estate agents, the platform also connects banks, law firms, and related parties. Participating banks include HSBC, Bank of China (Hong Kong), Hang Seng Bank, Bank of East Asia, and Standard Chartered Bank.
“We spent HK$30 million and almost one year to develop this blockchain platform,” said Alex Shih, vice chairman at Centaline. “We expect to invest HK$100 million on IT development this year, bringing enhanced experience to our customers.”
The blockchain platform provides services in three stages. Starting from March, the platform is open to property sellers and landlords to sign the Estate Agency Agreement for Sale of Residential Properties in Hong Kong (Form 3) and the Estate Agency Agreement for Leasing of Residential Properties in Hong Kong (Form 5) with Centaline respectively. According to Shih, over 500 agreements were signed via the platform.
In quarter two of this year, purchasers and tenants will be able to sign the Estate Agency Agreement for Purchase of Residential Properties in Hong Kong (Form 4) and the Estate Agency Agreement for Leasing of Residential Properties in Hong Kong (Form 6) respectively via the platform.
The platform will be further applied to the Provisional Agreement for Sale and Purchase in quarter three of this year. Centaline expects the use of blockchain technology in the entire property transaction process within this year, seamlessly integrating bank and law firm services into the platform.
Apart from protecting customer privacy and data security, Shih noted that blockchain technology also saves time and resources in the property transaction process.
The blockchain platform enables Centaline to provide 24x7 second-hand property selling and buying service with no restrictions on location or time. In addition, the technology helps the property agency to become more environmentally friendly.
“We receive around 5,000 copies of the estate agency agreement every month, involving at least 40,000 sheets of paper,” Shih said. “With the use of the blockchain platform, we can reduce unnecessary document printing.”
Blockchain technology provider TFI sees a huge potential of blockchain in different industries.
“Blockchain platform provides a safe and reliable environment for the real estate industry,” said Charles Tse, platform director at TFI. “We hope blockchain can open up more possibilities in other industries such as the legal and financial sectors.”