In recent decades, all businesses have had to reinvent themselves technologically – with this evolution due in large part to their desire to remain industrially competitive. By extension, it has also become increasingly important for a company to maintain a strong online presence. This is because its investors and consumers frequently depend on internet access to engage with their preferred products; whether retail or stock orientated.
For Pakistan, this robust spirit for consumerism and enterprise has resulted in all technology – which facilitates local brands for selling their products quickly – being adopted readily by its market benefactors.
In the country, the Internet age came slightly late, but businesses (to their credit) caught up early; as did their customers.
Pakistani real estate: from chaotic beginnings to the orderly present
Pakistan real estate sector is perhaps one of the best examples of industry-wide technological – primarily internet-centric – incorporation in the modern world.
Real estate has traditionally presented a bit of a ‘Wild West’ scenario in Pakistan. Since the country’s founding, many people have considered the domain to be an unregulated enigma. Private real estate enterprise did not exist on a large scale for large swaths of the nation’s history, even though large amounts of funds were poured into the industry.
This situation changed when Pakistani expatriates (part of the western diaspora) grew larger in number, and speedier online access to the country’s real estate market became available. The demand for Pakistani property has always been high among these foreign-placed locals – both for the high returns that it offers (reportedly providing 15-20% returns on investment per year, as per a local newspaper source), as well as the desire to own land in their native country.
When the Internet Entered into the Equation…
This provision of quick internet access, coupled with the publication of real estate data online, meant that the industry underwent profound changes within the decade between the years 2005 and 2015.
The said expatriates group needed instant data, and the internet readily catered to this demand. Whereas they previously had to depend on ground associates to apprise them of their focused property situation in real terms, Pakistanis living abroad were now enabled to easily bypass this route.
These changed accessibility dynamics resulted in a revolutionised real estate experience – and soaring returns. One-touch internet platforms allowed better understanding of all matters pertaining to the property market, and provided the decision-making tools needed to make smart investment choices.
In the wake of these developments, the last two decades were (not surprisingly) marked by the increasing inclusion of the expatriate community into the sector. And looking back, the influence that they have wielded on the market has been phenomenal – setting the trends of the entire industry.
Specifically, the massive use of online property portals has greatly enhanced the ability of investors to obtain minute information related to the real estate sector, reproduce visual elements (charts/infographics), or launch interactive applications – and thereby attain better returns in the process.
Conversely, the unrestricted use of the internet (and the myriad of social networks, forums, real estate websites, and mobile apps hosted on its global network) has provided an unparalleled marketing impetus to realtors to sell more — and better.
The World Wide Web has allowed real estate developers to expand the scope of their activities. Nowadays, they can easily publicise their inventories available around the country (and across the world) within a moment’s notice – and with the guarantee of unrivalled outreach. Some of the more sophisticated internet platforms, like the recently launched Prop.pk, also provide an easy interaction space for public engagement; while being noticeably cost-friendly.
The Upsurge of Websites Connecting Producers and Consumers
The real estate sector aside, similar trends (of increasing technological advancement and accessibility) can be observed in the overall investment and savings industries.
The inter-related concerns of stock trading and mutual funds, for example, have witnessed a profound change in the past decade. Nowadays, you no longer need to be physically present at the site of the stock exchange, or visit the bank. Opening or managing a brokerage account can all be done from the comfort of your internet-connected office PC, or even your phone. For the most part, the web is usually just waiting to provide tons of data to help you with conducting incisive research on a particular company.
The execution process (where a deal is processed) is also easier – as the human error has been reduced substantially.
So does speedy access to the market boost returns?
Well, it certainly seems to have done so in Pakistan. And as explained above, it has, in fact, allowed the country’s real estate sector – for both developers and investors – to thrive like never before.
Apart from real estate and financial institutions being pioneers in terms of providing speedy access to their respective local markets, a number of ventures have been launched in the country that serve as an easy gateway to a variety of e-markets located both within and outside Pakistan. This category popularly includes such brands as Daraz, Foodpanda, and OLX – among others.
All of these internet platforms do not essentially bring anything new to the table. They just provide on-the-go access to their respective markets, and connect the buyer with the seller; the consumer with the product. Across cities, and beyond countries.
The Evolution is all Set to Continue (as it rightly should)
Based on current trends, technology is all set to continue changing how people make their investments in a variety of markets – well into the future. This forecast is expected to impact the workings of consumers, producers and investors alike; who will likely demand greater and more novel means of access to their targeted marketplaces.
The involvement of large sums of capital, and respective governments’ needs to keep the economy minutely regulated, can serve as significant investor access-barriers for countries like Pakistan – where the aggregate economy still remains largely undocumented. To keep a check on all transactions conducted on its territory, the government puts up high requirements for documenting particular sections of the economy; measures which tend to create a lot of friction for potential investors.
The large-scale use of biometric technology – something that has become more frequent in the past few years – has removed some of these impediments. As things stand, however, further efforts need to be made on this front (and ideally in a short time period) to stimulate increased investor activity.
At the same time, businesses and financial institutions need to work on lowering their costs of investment. A good way to do this would be to lower their investors’ fees – thereby improving their recipients’ returns. The intelligent utilisation of big data – and further automation of the systems in place – can help in achieving this.