PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: LandTech | epropservices | NatWest

In today’s news, Andrew Stanton looks at LandTech’s Series A funding, the latest acquisition by epropservices, and the NatWest guilty plea.

Daily bite-sized proptech and property news in partnership with Estate Agent Networking.

Proptech platform scoops £42 million funding to grow its international presence

LandTech, a London-based proptech platform for development site sourcing and assessing, has announced its £42 million Series A funding round.

The investment round was led by a US-based investment firm Updata Partners, along with participation from Flashpoint Secondary Fund and existing investors Pi Labs and JLL Spark.

The proceeds from this round will be used by LandTechto expand its international presence and grow its product offering, helping customers to identify and benefit from new development opportunities.

“LandTech has achieved incredible growth with minimal funding and we’re excited to help them accelerate their international expansion and product development,” said Jon Seeber, a General Partner at Updata.

“As property development transitions into a digital era, LandTech’s current and future offerings serve as critical infrastructure required to manage traditionally disparate data and collaboration across the industry,” said Jonny Britton, CEO and co-founder of LandTech. “Our goals are to streamline the process of unlocking the value of land with a unique ecosystem of data-driven tools that will fill a critical void in the growth of the property development industry globally.”

Jonny Britton and Andrew Moist established LandTech in 2015. Its flagship product – LandInsight has centralised planning, ownership and policy data to open up the property market for the 10 largest housebuilders and thousands of SME property developers in the UK alike. This product has helped to build over 50,000 homes in the UK.

With its suite of products, LandTech intends to bring transparency to the entire property development process starting from initial sourcing and assessing throughout appraisal and funding. 

Currently, the fast-growing proptech is on a major recruitment drive and aims to double its team 130 within 2022. Already, LandTech has hired 50 new team members this year. Its customer base includes Taylor Wimpey, CBRE, BNP Paribas, Cushman & Wakefield, JLL and Savills.

Digital lead generator LeadPro acquired by epropservices

Jon Cooke, CEO of epropservices

The brand and technology provider to the property sector epropservices has announced its acquisition of Property Technology Ltd, better known as LeadPro, a lead generation platform used by the UK’s largest estate agencies. This latest acquisition, backed by Toscafund, will enable more estate agents to access the latest digital marketing and lead generation technology.

Jon Cooke, CEO of epropservices, says: “In the last three years over 400 of our customers have integrated the LeadPro marketing tech into their businesses and it’s provided them with a significant commercial advantage. Bringing LeadPro into the group will make integrating the latest digital customer journey technology more accessible for estate agents and place epropservices as a leader in the Proptech space.”

LeadPro provides marketing and lead generation software that helps them book more valuations, grow market share, digitalise customer journeys, impress applicants and modernise branch management. Including an online valuation tool, portal lead responder, on-demand telephony prospector, social media marketing service and a lead management dashboard with a team performance league table.

Sam Zawadzki, CEO of LeadPro, “The merger will allow us to have access to a larger development team and more resources for investing in new tech and faster product development, which means greater product selection for both existing and future clients.” he comments.

Sam will also become Chief Product Officer within epropservices, to enable better integration between agents’ websites and LeadPro, and the scale of the deal will also make it much easier for the platform to integrate with CRMs.

Toscafund and epropservices director, Matthew Siebert adds: “As epropservices’ majority shareholder, Toscafund is very pleased to support the group’s endeavour to build Britain’s leading proptech services provider to the estate agency community. This acquisition further ensures that epropservices can deliver a full suite of digital tools to its clients.”

NatWest pleads guilty to money laundering failures

NatWest has pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering failures. The lender admitted to charges that it failed to ensure adequate anti-money laundering controls were in place on one customer between 7 November 2013 until 23 June 2016 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. It now awaits sentencing at Southwark Crown Court for sentencing due in four to eight weeks for a fine that may amount to as much as £400m.

The bank said a provision will be made in the group’s third-quarter financial accounts “in anticipation of a potential fine being imposed at that hearing”. The case was brought by the Financial Conduct Authority who say “no individuals are being charged as part of these proceedings.”

The court heard around £356m, £264m in cash, from one Bradford-based business customer was deposited in its NatWest account over a five-year period. The bank had earlier forecast the turnover of the firm would amount to £15m a year.

NatWest said it had cooperated fully with the FCA since its investigation began, adding it has spent almost £700m on beefing up its monitoring systems over the last five years and plans to spend over £1bn in the coming five years.

NatWest chief executive Alison Rose says: “We deeply regret that NatWest failed to adequately monitor and therefore prevent money laundering by one of our customers between 2012 and 2016.

“NatWest has a vital part to play in detecting and preventing financial crime and we take extremely seriously our responsibility to prevent money laundering by third parties.

“In the years since this case, we have invested significant resources and continue to enhance our efforts to effectively combat financial crime.”

SmartSearch chief executive John Dobson says a high street bank pleading guilty to money laundering failures may prove a “wake up call” to other regulated firms who do not devote enough resources to this issue.

Dobson says: “To have a bank the size of NatWest pleading guilty to money laundering charges is unprecedented, and hopefully will be a wake-up call for the industry.

“Despite tools being readily available to prevent this illegal activity, currently 99% of ill-gotten gains are successfully laundered by criminals, and regulated businesses need to do much more to prevent this.

“If the moral obligation to stop terrorists, drug smugglers and sex traffickers legitimising their money isn’t enough motivation, through this case the FCA has shown it is willing to severely punish those who don’t take their responsibilities seriously.

“To genuinely prevent money laundering, regulated businesses need to be much more proactive in doing away with outdated systems and methods of ID verification, and invest in technology that is fit for purpose.

“The tech has long been available to quickly and efficiently verify customers and prevent this type of activity, banks just need to adopt it.

“Without disrupting the customers’ experience, this software will flag the cases that need further attention and save the banks time and effort.

“Banks can get set-up quickly and easily, so there is no excuse for them not to shore-up their anti-money laundering defences.”

Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.

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