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The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Malaysia

A Blockchain-based property investment platform to clear unsold units, wins hackathon

Published: 2 October 2018
winning team
This is the team's second time to win a major prize in a hackathon.

There is a rising number of unsold residential properties in Malaysia. Newspaper reports show that are about 34,532 unsold and completed residential properties in Q1 2018, higher than last year’s total of 22,175 units. To help address this situation, a group of engineering students from the University of Southampton Malaysia (UoSM) created a solution that aims to help property developers clear unsold units.

Called PropCoin, the Blockchain-based property investment platform recently won the top prize at the Merdeka Hackathon 2018. Out of the 14 higher learning institutions, the top RM5,000 prize went to UoSM’s PhD and undergraduate students, respectively: Ivan Ling Ting Yang, Chia Tze Hank, Delveer Singh, Do Wen Rei and Khee Ri Han.

‘‘Our team focused on coming up with a working prototype as well as refining our business idea. The idea was to deal with unsold high-end properties by reimagining property investment, making it affordable, transparent and hassle-free,’’ explains Wen Rei.

Making property investment similar to an online shopping experience was not an easy feat. The team spent hours to develop the system using NEM’s Mosaic and Namespace technology to create a Blockchain-based Smart Asset system.

Says Hank, ‘’The Mosaic system works by tracking the transfer of assets from one person to the other on the Blockchain. This means that one person can transfer the ownership of his tokens to another person without the use of a third party(such as a bank or a lawyer) to authenticate the transaction.’’

To get the final prototype working, Hank and Delveer worked collaboratively, with Hank implementing the web interface in Microsoft’s Azure platform while Delveer worked on the backend NEM Blockchain transaction service. Khee and Wen Rei, on the other hand, worked on the business plan, and the feasibility of the project, as well as the financial implications of the project.

‘’I provided technical assistance and insights into the business plan. The team worked collaboratively through GitHub, a free online platform that allows different programmers to work on a same project simultaneously. We brainstormed and coded for almost 16 hours straight, most of us only slept one to two hours in the night, and some of us didn’t sleep until the end of the hackathon,’’ shares Ivan, the team’s mentor.

For Khee, being the newcomer in the team, the experience taught him a valuable lesson: ‘’There is a benefit in joining an experienced team, as they will guide you through the process. I think teamwork is very important in a hackathon as it makes collaboration easy, which in the end makes the whole experience more meaningful and enjoyable’’

This is the second time this group won in a hackathon event. In July, the team won the Most Impactful Project Award at the BlockchainSpirit Hackathon in Singapore.

‘’Well, we went for a previous Hackathon over at Nanyang Technological University and one of the mentors was from NEM Malaysia (Anthony Law). We still keep in contact and then a few weeks after that, he invited us for the NEM Hackathon. He ignited our interest in Blockchain technology from the first hackathon. With that being said, to learn more about something, you have to practice. What better way to get more experience than joining this hackathon to expand the boundaries on this topic. At the end of the day, we are trying to learn, improve and form a network with others. Hence, our active participation in the hackathon,’’ reckons Delveer.

The University acknowledges the importance of competition and its impact to students’ employability. In response, a range of support is provided to UoSM students who progress through to the latter stages of competitions, including  application as well as travel expenses.

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