The road forward from the coronavirus pandemic is paved with uncertainty, but one consequence already appears to be crystal clear.
People want to be able to do things remotely, safely, and securely, and this difficult period will only accelerate the momentum toward an increasingly digital future.
Of course, the move toward a broader digital world has been taking shape for years. But with the recent social distancing guidelines, we have seen a radical shift in the way people work, shop, socialize, and consume media and entertainment.
I have worked in mortgage and finance for many years. As I recently wrote on LinkedIn, I believe we will look back at this difficult period and recognize that it served as a springboard to the mortgage industry’s future, accelerating the pace of change and resulting in a fully digital mortgage.
This will give lenders and consumers alike the tools to a fast, frictionless, and — especially important during the pandemic — safer homebuying experience.
Helping our customers manage an unexpected surge in business
As a result of low interest rates and economic difficulties faced by many Americans, lenders have been hit by an unexpected jump in demand. We are encouraging our customers to think about managing this volume in two phases. One, how do you deal with the immediate issue? Two, how do you evolve towards a fully digital lending experience in a post-pandemic world?
We are focusing on four key areas to help our customers now and in the future:
- We are quickening the pace of automation to help our customers manage a big increase in refinance applications. At the end of May refis were up nearly 200% compared with a year ago.
- We are accelerating Blend Close so consumers can complete a mortgage application safely, securely, and seamlessly. In tandem with Blend Close, we need Congress to enact the bipartisan SECURE Notarization Act, which will permit online notarization.
- We are working with our customers to determine the best way technology can help manage the rise in requests for mortgage forbearance under the CARES Act, as well as loan modifications.
- We are also giving customers the agility to manage the demand for small business loans under the CARES Act. We helped one partner, M&T Bank, get up and running with a self-serve application for Paycheck Protection Program loans in 72 hours. The bank has funded nearly 100% of the loan requests it received since April, amounting to over 32,273 loans totaling almost $7 billion.
Accelerating the push toward fully digital lending
No one knows how long this public health crisis and challenging time will continue.
But here at Blend we will continue to respond to another call to action. Our company was built in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 financial crisis to build the technology that could help transform the mortgage industry, facilitating simplicity and transparency through data and digitization.
As Blend CEO and founder Nima Ghamsari recently said in describing our partnership with M&T Bank, “Similar challenges to those that had plagued lenders in 2008 were at the forefront of this latest crisis, and we knew Blend could make a difference.”
Everything in financial services, including the mortgage industry, is moving toward a fully digital future.
People want to be able to do things remotely and safely, and this period will hasten the progress toward that future.