Bank exodus sparks Hashching evolution

Sapien Venture’s first Australian fintech vehicle, Hashching, will raise a further $6 million to up-scale it's online platform and integrate new technology opportunities to further “streamline” the mortgage process.

With Hashching now in receipt of some $5 billion in home loan applications, chief executive Mandeep Sodhi, said the time is right to roll the dice on economies of scale.

“Now is the time to double down on our competitive advantage,” he said.

According to Sodhi, the new capital will “turbocharge” growth, inflate brand awareness and provide a platform for further market disruption.

Catalyst

Sapien Ventures founder, Victor Jiang (pictured), told AB+F his initial deployment of venture capital, in April last year, went directly into building Sodhi’s team and backing his vision.

Following the $1 million injection, Hashching was named in the “emerging stars” list in the 2016 annual Fintech 100 and has grown from two to eight employees in six months - with plans to scale up to 30 before the end of the year.

Jiang anticipates Sapien’s investments alone will create some 500 jobs in the fintech sector in Australia within the next 18-24 months, many of which are likely to involve luring overseas fintech talent from the US, Europe and Asia to Australia.

“There are more fintech investors coming onto the scene all the time. With US policy uncertainties and Brexit, the time is ripe for Australia to become a leading regional hub of fintech investment and excellence,” Jiang said.

Recent policy changes have contributed to and been a catalyst for foreign inbound capital into early-stage Australian venture capital, he added.

After becoming the first Australian VC firm to deploy overseas Significant Investor Visa (SIV) capital into Australian fintech companies, such as HashChing, Jaing’s “tri-continental” Sapien Ventures has diversified away from just leveraging such policies as ambitious Chinese visa holders seek stronger returns on investments of a scale beyond the SIV visa ‘ticket price”.

According to Jiang, such investments lead directly to jobs growth in the most competitive sector of the economy and further the evolution of fintech in Australia and the region.
 

Exodus

Launched in August 2015, Hashching was the first Australian online broker marketplace where borrowers can access pre-negotiated home loans via mortgage brokers across 60 banks and lenders.

While the major banks are no longer offering home loan interest rates below 4.5 per cent, mortgage brokers on Hashching have secured deals at or below 4 per cent. Sodhi noted there is now an exodus of borrowers from the big four banks.

“Where 55 per cent of all refinance applications last year were away from the big four banks, this number now sits at 72 per cent," Sodhi observed.

According to Hashching, the marketplace platform has already undergone a tech-led evolution.

“We’ve invested a lot of resources into making the online platform as intuitive as possible,” Sodhi said.

“Next-gen technologies like geo-targeting, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics underpin the user-friendly front-end, and we recently implemented Australia’s first biometric identity verification service, which enables brokers to satisfy the strict ‘know your client’ banking regulations via video call with their customers.”

For consumers, the Hashching platform is free to use and while brokers don’t pay for leads or ongoing trail commission, they do foot an upfront fee - payable when loans are settled.

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