Crowdfunding, which came to fame as a way for start-ups or individuals with quirky ideas to raise cash, is going mainstream, with Singapore-based real estate crowdfunder CoAssets joining Australia's junior market to bring its alternative investment model to a bigger audience.
CoAssets aims to "match-make" property deals - be it mezzanine loans to developers or equity in physical property - with investors. On Wednesday the company, which is the first crowdfunding platform for real estate projects in Southeast Asia , started trading on the National Stock Exchange of Australia (NSX) under the symbol "CAX".
While the idea of real estate crowdfunding has taken off in the U.S. and U.K. with the success of companies such as RealCrowd and FundRise, it remains a relatively foreign concept in Asia.
CoAssets' co-founder and CEO Getty Goh told CNBC he was aware that wary developers preferred traditional funding sources like bank loans, while some investors were concerned about the risks related to the new investment tool.
"There were several considerations, but fundamentally, we were going for credibility," Getty Goh, the co-founder and chief executive officer of CoAssets, said of the decision to list.
"In light of the property scams, we recognize that there is a lot of apprehension when it comes to crowdfunding so we want to get it right by getting ourselves listed and show that we are credible."
Since its launch in 2013, CoAssets has crowdfunded more than $36 million Singapore dollars ($26 million) for over 15 residential and commercial projects in Asia, with an average return of 6-17 percent. Investors keen to invest can commit as little as 1,000 Singapore dollars or more to be part of a minor shareholder cohort coordinated by CoAssets.
Prior to the listing, the financial accounts of the crowdfunding platform were audited twice by third-party auditors in Singapore and Australia.
"All in all, we are subjecting ourselves to a high level of scrutiny so as to impress the market and stakeholders that we are taking this business seriously not just in Singapore but also in the region," Goh told CNBC by phone.