Urbanmetry, a Malaysia-based artificial intelligence (AI)-driven city and property data company, announced Tuesday it has closed a Pre-Series A round of $2 million led by Monk’s Hill Ventures.

The funding will be used for developing its intelligent data products and platforms to serve end consumers in the property and mortgage markets; and for building out its product, technology, data, and business development teams, Urbanmetry said in a statement.

With the funding, Urbanmetry will accelerate the development and adoption of its mortgage data products and platform. The company also plans to expand its repertoire of city databases to other Southeast Asian cities.

Real estate is the largest asset class globally. Yet, like its brick-and-mortar nature, it is the hardest to fund. In developing cities, the lack of reliable data compounds the issue, making mortgage underwriting particularly complex, risky, and as a by-product, expensive. To increase liquidity and affordability, there is a need for mortgage risks to be objectively quantified, fragmented, and traded. Leveraging its strong foundation of proprietary real estate databases and data products, Urbanmetry is building a platform to deliver this much-needed functionality for the mortgage market.

“For years, our engineers have been building in-house artificial intelligence and data-powered solutions to help banks, government, and property developers better quantify risks and opportunities in the real estate market. However, the data gap is detrimental to both key industry players and individual homeowners alike. Going forward, our team plans to push the technological envelope further to better fund homeowners and build sustainable cities for our shared future,” said Koh Cha-Ly, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Urbanmetry.

Urbanmetry is a property data company that harvests, cleans, and analyses large amounts of city data, through AT and proprietary algorithms to extract trends and patterns in the built environment. It offers this data to public and private sectors, in hopes of creating a more efficient and transparent property market, improving city planning, and shaping a sustainable urban environment.

The company today has over 150 corporate clients in the region including UEM Sunrise, Kuok Group Berhad, RHB Bank, Hong Leong Bank, and the World Bank. Clients have partnered with Urbanmetry to conduct their due diligence and analysis of the housing and property market before making multimillion-dollar investment decisions. The company has seen sustained growth over the pandemic and is profitable.

Its investors in the previous round include 500 Global, 500 Southeast Asia, and Reapra.

“Data-driven decision making is important in shaping the financing and construction of our cities. Unfortunately, data is scarce in the cities and markets that need it most. Tech startups such as Urbanmetry bridges the data gap that helps decision-makers navigate in the fast-changing markets such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and hopefully other developing countries globally,” said Dao Harrison, Senior Housing Specialist of World Bank.

In addition to providing data and insight to institutional clients, Urbanmetry also offers products for the homeowner. To assist homebuyers in making their mortgage commitment, Urbanmetry has launched Nowcast, an AI-driven service that helps homebuyers forecast the value of their homes based on machine learning from 90 city data variables. Nowcast reports are available through banks in Malaysia to mortgage applicants today.

“Over the past four years, I have observed how Cha-Ly and her team built a platform that can fundamentally transform the mortgage market. The property mortgage industry is typically opaque, with valuations that are often subjective or subject to conflicts of interest. The opportunity to leverage data science in providing a data-driven underpinning to the mortgage process is immense. We are excited to be working with the deepest real estate data science team in the region to tackle a difficult but high-impact problem. The end goal is to provide access to affordable and fair mortgages for Southeast Asian homeowners.” said Kuo-Yi Lim, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Monk’s Hill Ventures.

Founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs Peng T. Ong and Kuo-Yi Lim, Monk’s Hill Ventures is a venture capital firm investing in early-stage technology startups, primarily in Series A, in Southeast Asia. Backed by institutional investors and family offices worldwide, it works with exceptional entrepreneurs who use technology to improve the lives of millions of people in the region.

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