Chinese online classified group 58.com to debut property leasing, sales platform Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2017, 4:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2017, 7:58pm

Chinese online classifieds provider 58.com said it will soon land in Hong Kong, debuting new services to tap the city’s real estate and lifestyle market.

The New York-listed company, which runs the largest online marketplace offering multi-category local services in China, will introduce two of its popular business segments – Anjuke and 58 Daojia – to Hong Kong in 2017, according to its founder and Chairman Yao Jinbo.

Anjuke is one of the largest online real estate service information providers and home rental and transaction platforms in the Chinese mainland. 58 Daojia provides online daily-life information and a directory of various offline services such as cleaning, moving, babysitting, and beauty care.

The company will roll out the online platforms to provide Hong Kong consumers access to housekeeping, couriers and moving services, Yao said during a media briefing during last week’s Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan.

The decision to enter Hong Kong was made based on consideration of the local business environment and market competition, he added.

In the meanwhile, it will also duplicate its online home rental and transaction services to Hong Kong. Hong Kong still lacks an online platform for consumers to search through available properties for rental or sale, despite the large market scale.

The online real estate platform aims to serve both Hong Kong and mainland consumers. Yao noted that market demand is fuelled by interest from Hongkongers and mainland investors, as prices in mainland cities such as Shenzhen continue to narrow with those in Hong Kong.

58.com will invite Hong Kong property agencies and brokers to join its platform. The launch will create jobs in Hong Kong, although there are no plans as yet to partner with a local Hong Kong company, Yao said.

The business model differs from mainland real estate services provider Qfang.com, which entered the Hong Kong market in 2015 offering both online and offline property services.

Yao said the development of internet-based businesses in Hong Kong is far behind those on the mainland, even though the city has a vibrant IT community and access to ample funding resources.

“The biggest problem is that Hong Kong didn’t take the initiative to integrate internet-based business with the mainland. It is impossible for a city of 7 million people to shore up a mega internet company?” said Yao.

58.com said the company, in spite of losses, will continue to invest heavily in 58 Daojia and its second-hand trading platform zhuanzhuan.com. Yao expects that these two relatively new business segments will become the growth engine to the group in the future.

The company’s 2016 revenue totalled US$1.14 billion, up 69.5 per cent from 2015 the company said in a stock exchange filing in February. The company suffered a net loss for the period of US$117.8 million, narrowing from a net loss of US$250.9 million in 2015.

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