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Why China’s Real Estate Developers Are Investing in Tech

Underneath an upscale shopping mall in Hangzhou, China, property developer CapitaLand has teamed up with self-driving car startup UISEE Technologies Beijing to test a driverless golf cart for shuttling customers around. If the companies can work out the kinks, CapitaLand hopes to deploy the golf carts at a other projects, such as one on the Yangtze River where it plans to build massive parking lots.

The partnership is a sign of how Asian real estate giants, hurt by the impact e-commerce has had on shopping malls, are making their own tech investments as a way to diversify. CapitaLand, for instance, launched a nearly $74 million venture capital fund, called C31 Ventures and developed a chatbot for some customer services in addition to its deal with UISEE. Dalian Wanda Group led a $230 million investment into a smart parking app called ETCP. It had previously acquired a Chinese online payments program. Wang Sicong, the son of Dalian Wanda’s founder, is an active angel investor and venture capitalist.

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