covid_19_impact_on_prop_tech

How COVID-19 and KYC Have Changed the Self-Tour Industry, For Good

As the whole world has grappled with COVID-19, consumer behavior has shifted dramatically, and businesses had to respond in real-time. And while some of the changes will be temporary, industries like telemedicine, entertainment, hospitality, and fintech may never look the same. However, within real estate and self-tour, COVID-19 has acted as an accelerant, pushing companies to live in a reality that likely would have taken years to reach under any other circumstances. It’s a reality that one company is welcoming with open arms.

Self-isolation and social distancing have become a new way of life for most and legally mandated for many. Adapting to these new rules and norms as an individual does not mean that plans will follow suit; leases expire, families grow, and out of town job opportunities are all still very real. For an industry that has seen a rise in fraudulent actors on both sides, companies and renters alike typically only had two options: group open houses or one on one viewings, neither of which are seen as safe options today. For Walk.in, a self-touring app, COVID-19 has acted as a means to expand offerings to those looking for a new home or office space in a way that feels comfortable and safe on their own terms.

Walk.in had already started outfitting properties with smart locks before the pandemic hit. They also built an app to facilitate self-tours to rental properties either with or without smart locks and used their own company as a test pilot.

“The whole tour was a black box. A decision was made. We needed follow up, we needed metrics.”

– Ofir Sperling, CTO of Walk.in

Before they found Authenteq’s KYC solution, interested prospective renters selected a listing online and once they clicked on it, were prompted to provide a cell phone number where a link to download the app was sent. Sperling began researching the space for identity verification tools that could be integrated into the process.

“A lot of companies were offering a lot of unnecessary services, too many bells and whistles, Authenteq took a surgical approach to ID verification and that’s what we really needed.”

– Ofir Sperling, CTO of Walk.in

For Sperling, while identity verification was crucial, it didn’t allow for confirmation of who was actually entering the building and when. Authenteq’s selfie verification – which matches biometric data to the verified government-issued identification – allows them to not only answer those questions but brings peace of mind as it keeps the privacy and security of residents already living at that property at an all-time high. Choosing a fully automated system ensures that this all happens in real-time, eliminating both any lag time, thus enhancing the overall user experience, and the risk of human error. They have also included an AI-enhanced chat option for live feedback during tours.

Sperling and his team are currently collaborating with Authenteq on an advanced dashboard that will include the option for rental agents to manually override certain decisions in the rare instances where human intervention may be needed.

“We do want to give our managers autonomy in the ID verification process where special circumstances may arise, but those are very rare.” 

– Ofir Sperling, CTO of Walk.in

Within the last 10 months, Walk.in has expanded from a simple auto-generated SMS text message system to a fully automated sophisticated KYC and identity verification system that allows for in-depth metrics to better evaluate business operations and reduces fraudulent claims overall.

The launch of Walk.in during COVID-19 was a daunting feat but as Sperling puts it, “it was the ideal real-world stress test for the system,” as they were able to make ad hoc adjustments and upgrades during the launch based on usage, feedback, and any new or temporary legislation. As a family-owned business with nearly 70 years in real estate, Walk.in’s team is uniquely positioned to understand what all parties involved need and they have brought that knowledge and experience into the technology.  

Before COVID-19 hit, 30 percent of their properties were listed on the Walk.in app, after the integration with Authenteq, 100 percent are now on the platform.

“If you look at history, sometimes the biggest accelerators are disasters. There are a lot of technologies that come out of wars, it’s the same thing in medicine. And if you look at the self-tour space, it was us and two other companies, now there are at least 10 others that emerged during COVID. Our main advantage is that we come from this world of real estate, we grew up here, we know it much better than somebody coming from the tech world, just trying to capitalize on this moment.”

– Ofir Sperling, CTO of Walk.in

Want to future-proof your property management and take control of your rental security? Let’s have a chat! Open an Authenteq account or schedule a demo with one of our ID verification and KYC experts.

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