International crowdfunding platform launches Australian operations

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Australians looking to dip their toes in the crowdfunding sector will soon be given another opportunity to do so, with Singapore based CoAssets launching the local arm of its operations.

The platform, which currently has around 45,000 registered users and has already crowdfunded $44 million for real estate developments throughout Asia, last week announced it is on the lookout for Australian projects to feature on the platform and plans to open up investing for Australians in the coming months.

“We’ve just started our Australian operations and we are looking for projects to be involved in,” CoAssets founder and chief executive Getty Goh said.

“For the first few projects, what we would like to see is an Australian developer who is looking for finance or a bridging loan and leverage on the investor base that we already have outside of Australia to raise that money,” Goh said.

CoAssets has recently become a Corporate Authorised Representative of an Australian Financial Services License, meaning it is approved to open up its crowdfunding platform to Australian investors, however Goh said the platform is planning to take a sensible approach to rolling out its operations.

“There are plans in the next couple of months or so to get the first [development] projects up and running and then in three or four months we can get that opened up to Australian investors,” Goh said.

“Right now we already can [open up to investors], but we want to have one or two successful test cases first, because we know, understandably, that Australian investors still probably have some reservations about crowdfunding. Once we have some successful cases, that’s something we think will really help to get the Australian investors in.”

Goh said CoAssets has been speaking to stakeholders across real estate and financial sectors and they are confident the platform will prove popular in Australia; a market Goh said has been on their radar since the beginning.

“From the very onset we recognised that Australia is a very transparent market and it’s also a market that investors are very sophisticated, so naturally it’s a place we were interested in operating.

“If we have a market like Australia under our belt we feel that the users and the value of deals done will really grow exponentially.”

Goh said CoAssets is positioned to help developers looking to finance projects valued in the low millions and the fact that people can invest as little $1,000 opens up investment opportunities for regular people that they otherwise would be unable to access.

“We feel the space of raising a couple of hundred thousand dollars or up to $1 or $2 million is really the space we operate in.

“I see it as us opening a slightly new market for regular investors who want to make anywhere from 7% to 10% on their investment, but don’t want to have to commit to a multiple property projects.

“If you want to make more than 7% or 10%, those deals are there, but most of the time those deals are for the big players, not regular investors. Through CoAssest a regular investor can invest as little as $1,000 in a project that gives those returns.”

CoAsset’s Australian rollout is part of its focus on south-east Asia and the surrounding areas, and Goh believes as it expands the platform will open up investment and development opportunities across the region.

“One of things we hope to really expand in due course is the cross-border nature of crowd funding. We always had the vision that crowd funding would allow say a boutique developer here in Australia to raise funding for a project elsewhere.

“Say you have somebody in their 50s or 60s considering looking at retirement and they want to develop an eco-resort. It would be too expensive to do so in Australia, uut you could probably do something with say 10 villas for $2 or $3 million in Bali, but where do they get the money?

“They wouldn’t be able to borrow from indo banks because they’re not Indonesian and they wouldn’t be able to borrow from Australian banks because the asset is elsewhere. So it’s our hope that sort of aspiring developer through CoAssets could reach the crowd and raise the funding they need.”
 

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