Data in focus as mortgages go digital

The way the mortgage industry tackles data will be a “different ball game” under open data and aid the move towards digitising mortgage refinancing. This was the assessment made by Marcus Price, chief executive of Property Exchange Australia, at a Randstad Leaders Lecture event in Sydney last week.

Price (pictured left) was speaking on a panel with New South Wales registrar general from the Office of the Registrar General, Jeremy Cox (pictured in the middle), and Anthony Walsh, partner (pictured right) at law firm Dentons. The panellists discussed the challenges and outlook for digital mortgages and the shift to e-conveyancing. 

From August this year, all mortgage refinancing transactions in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia will be required to be carried out digitally using the PEXA platform. 

This not only marks an important stage in the development of PEXA but, according to Price, it will be a major step forward for the banking, finance, and conveyancing industries in securing the advantages from the digital transformation of “Australia’s largest asset class”. 

“There will be many benefits to the mortgage industry with the move towards e-conveyancing and digitisation of mortgages,” Price said. “Customers will receive real-time access to the proceeds of the sale, applications processing times will be cut from 42 to 17 days and error rates will fall through intuitive checks and balances.” 

While these benefits from mortgage digitisation were acknowledged by the panel, the issue of data was also of consideration particularly in an era of open banking.

Privacy issues 

“Open data will be a big trend. In the United Kingdom customers already own their records inside the banks and banks are now forced to implement APIs in order to access them. It’s pretty breathtaking,” Price said.

“In terms of the mortgage industry, home owners will own their data but under a digital framework it will be a different ball game. By streamlining data, we in the industry will be better placed to provide them with more transparency and value-added services.” 

Data ownership has also emerged as a sensitive topic under the state government's plans to digitise mortgage refinancing transactions. 

The NSW Government is aiming for 85 per cent of all conveyancing lodgements in the state to be digital by mid-2019. This will also mean that all Certificates of Title will be phased out in favour of e-Titles.

According to Cox, close collaboration between government and industry and the implementation of robust policies and procedures will ensure that the integrity of data is kept during this transformation.

He emphasised that the NSW government still owns the data and while the government is open to industry participants offering value-add services under the new framework, Cox said regulatory oversight of national e-conveyancing will still be in place to “oversee a robust competitive environment”.

“Both Commonwealth and state legislation will ensure privacy controls over data are maintained.” 

For Denton's Walsh, the digitisation of mortgage refinancing will “make property transactions more enjoyable”. 

“The amount of time taken to process and sign off on documents is a nightmare. An initiative like e-conveyancing will allow people to transaction from platforms such as a mobile phone which will be more enjoyable than turning up at a solicitor’s office," he said.

For full coverage of the panel discussion at this event as part of the Randstad Leader's Lecture series, see the July issue of AB+F Magazine.

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