SmartCrowd Limited, a Dubai-based company and MENA’s first financially regulated real estate investments platform (REIP) has announced today that the company has fulfilled all regulatory requirements and acquired a full license from the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the independent regulator of financial services based in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
Prior to its full license, SmartCrowd was operating under an “Innovation Testing License” as part of the DFSA’s regulatory sandbox program. The new license will permit SmartCrowd to open its platform to international investors and offer international real estate investments.
Founded in 2017, by Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed, SmartCrowd uses a crowdfunding model to democratize real estate for the average investor through “fractional ownership” of properties. SmartCrowd’s innovative digital platform allows individuals and families to invest in residential properties for as low as AED 5,000 (US $1400) without any debt or obligations, thereby reducing barriers to an investable asset class that is out of reach for many.
The process is simple. An interested investor needs to register with SmartCrowd, select a pre-vetted investment property, and invest a fraction of the property’s value. After the investment is made, the investor starts earning rental income in the form of dividends proportionate to his/her investment.
The company has successfully completed approximately AED 5 million in transactions with individual investments ranging from AED 5,000 to AED125,000 ($1,400 – $34,000). The company has also paid out multiple dividends with annual net returns ranging from 6.5% to 8%.
Siddiq Farid, Co-founder and CEO of SmartCrowd said: “Obtaining the DFSA license is a testament of our hard work and commitment to this market. We are excited about the new opportunities this license offers and are ready to expand our footprint. From day one, our strategy was to make real estate investments accessible and hassle-free – and we’re doing just that. During the past two years, both new and experienced investors have been drawn to our platform because of its ability to diversify their investments and reduce their exposure to risk.”
Raja Al Mazrouei, Executive Vice President of FinTech Hive said, “This achievement is a testament to the effectiveness of the ecosystem we have in place to enable innovative financial services to grow from the UAE and scale globally.”
“SmartCrowd, by obtaining its DFSA License, marks the next step in their growth to becoming MENA’s first regulated real estate investment platform. Their niche product, the team and their capabilities has demonstrated that it is poised to engage with a wider clientele-base and offer a more diverse international portfolio. At 500 Startups, our mission is to back such startups and help them scale their business. As one of the early investors, we look forward to SmartCrowd leading the way in fractional real estate investments in the region and beyond.”
Since its inception, SmartCrowd has received numerous awards for its innovative solution and been accepted to notable incubator and accelerator programs. Some of these accolades include winning Accenture’s Innovation Award at GITEX 2017, which helped the team secure a spot in the DIFC FinTech Hive’s inaugural batch; winning the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival competition resulting in a place at Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa’s) incubator program; winning the UAE Seedstar contest; and most recently, being accepted in the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program and winning FinTech of the Year by Arabian Business.
“We are tremendously proud of and excited for SmartCrowd’s achievements. We anticipated a long and arduous journey of adapting to the regulatory framework in the region for SmartCrowd but always had strong confidence in Siddiq and his A+ team. Today, SmartCrowd is the first and only financially regulated real estate digital investment platform in the MENA region and gives the general population access to an otherwise exclusive asset class – real estate. We are humbled to have been a part of this journey and will continue to support Smart Crowd with full strength. We challenge SmartCrowd to open up the properties in the Middle East to foreign investors who have recently developed keen interest in the real estate market here but just couldn’t find a transparent, reliable platform to do so.” says Kunal Sajvani, Partner Shorooq Investments, and an early investor in SmartCrowd.
“I want to extend my deepest gratitude and appreciation to all our early investors for believing in us when this was just a nascent concept. You are part of our story. The SmartCrowd community is growing every day and we are humbled to help people in their journey towards financial freedom,” added Siddiq.