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Digitally Driven

Cryptocurrencies recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their invention. Cryptocurrencies ushered in a new way of doing business and made the world sit up and take notice of the technology it was built on—blockchain. For those who haven't already heard about it, a blockchain uses a growing list of records called blocks which are linked using cryptography, making this technology a secure and safe way of transferring and saving data.

While the technology has been around for some time, it has only been a few years since the housing and mortgage industries began to take notice of this technology as a way of streamlining and securing its operations and making it a part of the overall digital initiatives of lenders to reach and service their customers.

Streamlining Processes

"There are three key areas that digital should solve: efficiency of document gathering, more choice around the channel, and improved communication. We view digital as an opportunity to remove some of the friction in the mortgage process that customers have consistently voiced as areas where the customer experience could be better across the industry," said Kathy Cummings, SVP Bank of America.

"When we think about the efficiency of time, it’s not just the documentation process that digital simplifies. Digital allows us to create omnichannel experiences that allow customers to choose when, where, and how they engage with their lender so that they can select what channel is most efficient for them," said Sonu Mittal, SVP and Head of Retail Lending at Citizens Bank.

Blockchain, therefore, does play an important role in smoothening out the digital process for lenders. "One such use is for land titles," said Shidan Gouran, CEO and President of Global Blockchain Technologies. "This does not only simplify property ownership, but it also minimizes the risks of fraud, especially in property transactions."

"Digital has enabled more efficient document gathering where lenders can securely gather much of the information and documentation on a customer’s behalf. Customers no longer have to spend valuable time gathering and submitting the documents, which allows them to focus more time on other parts of the home buying process, like inspections and preparing for closing with their attorney and realtor," Cummings said.

Tech vs. Touch

According to Gouda, while blockchain may have been around for a decade, it is only natural for the technology to take its time. "Remember how long the Internet took to evolve, and how rapidly it evolved once governments and major companies started using it? That is the phase blockchain is in now, and we are likely to see more mortgage and housing developments using it at an even more rapid pace in the next few years," Gouran said.

While blockchain may be evolving as a technology, there are many more digital options that lenders are combining with the human touch to reach out to their borrower base.

"A customer who initiates an application via digital channel should be able to move seamlessly between them," Mittal said. "The mortgage loan process takes place over a longer period of time from start to close because there are other variables with a range of timing, like closing date agreements with sellers. Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases a person makes, so we believe most customers prefer a human-digital experience that allows them to engage in a variety of ways based on their needs at the different points in the process."

Enhancing Borrower Experience

Cummings said that lenders could enhance a homebuyer’s experience when buying a home through digital channels by offering solutions that allowed consumers to simplify the mortgage process and make time for other life commitments. "Homebuyers who feel in control and empowered to take the first steps in achieving their goal of homeownership will have a better experience," she said.

Mittal agreed since digital has improved access to information to enable customers to stay informed about the progress of their loan without having to pick up the phone or email the loan officer.

"Those forms of communication are still important, which is why we believe omnichannel is the right approach for the best client experience, but digital has enabled more proactive information sharing than the industry previously had. Not only can customers check on the status of the loan, but they can also track tasks to be completed and collaborate with their loan officers through these digital portals."

Want to learn more about how technology such as blockchain impacts the housing and mortgage industry? Take part in the 2019 Five Star Fintech Summit, March 13-14 in Memphis Tennessee. Click here to learn more.

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her masters degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha, also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Dallas, Texas. She can be reached at Radhika.Ojha@DSNews.com.

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