Does faster in fintech always mean better?
HashChing's COO isn't banking on speed.
The average Aussie doesn't mind waiting a few weeks to get their home loan settled, as long as the rates are good, the experience is easy and they're dealing with a professional. This is what three-year-old fintech startup HashChing is banking on, according to its chief operating officer Siobhan Hayden.
HashChing is an online mortgage marketplace that connects borrowers and brokers through an automated, online platform and is part of a growing number of fintechs looking at improving the traditional bank home loan experience in Australia. However, according to Hayden, not all of them are focusing on the same customer pain points nor going about innovation in the same way.
Addressing an intimate crowd at an event hosted by ACS Australia in Sydney this week, Hayden discussed how HashChing remains focused on delivering a specific experience for its customers.
"Our quickest call time from a client enquiry to a broker being connected is 30 minutes and in our business, we text message the broker and the client 15 minutes before the requested call time to remind them both of their impending call. Before Christmas, if not in January, it will go to call on demand. So a broker will be instantly found, almost like an Uber search location, and instantly partnered with a call from a client. That's what we're getting to."
However, despite new features such as this being focused on speed, Hayden says that not everything in fintech, particularly in the mortgage space, needs to be automated.
"We still have this obsession, particularly with fintech and the digital landscape, where we think the digital process should be fully automated and the customers don't need to see anybody and you should be able to do it all online in five minutes," she said.
"And we see a prevalence of businesses coming out suggesting they can give you approval in 22 minutes or 15 minutes. That's all backed off you doing all the work, you uploading your banking details and scraping all your banking information, which customers are inherently not comfortable to do. Particularly with such a large transaction."
For Hayden, HashChing believes in solving other customer pain points such as documentation and finding the best rate.
"I've never heard a customer say that they want their loan to settle in less than six weeks, it's really not the pain point at the top end."
However, not all fintechs subscribe to this belief. One fintech that has made a name for itself, literally, because of the speed it can approve a home loan is Tic:Toc: Founder and CEO of Tic:Toc Anthony Baum disagrees with Hayden. He says that convenience is important to Australians when considering their home loan options.
"Many people delay refinancing their home loan, even when they would make considerable cost savings to switch, simply because the process is too slow and burdensome. We've also been able to approve customers for home finance while they're at an open inspection, so they were able to make an offer on the property, on the spot, that wasn't subject to finance," Baum said.
"Australians may have become accustomed to home loans being slow and tedious, but Tic:Toc proves there's a better way. With Tic:Toc, you can get a fully approved home loan faster than the time it takes to drive to your broker!"
Baum says that the main pain point for consumers is poor customer experience, something that technology can address.
"Australians are increasingly looking for self-serve options where they can access financial service products in their own time, in their own way. We've found that some people want to chat with our customer service team, while others would prefer to get their home loan without any human interaction. Technology can provide this choice and help to optimise individual customer pathways."
The fintech space is still developing, especially in the case of mortgages, and Baum admits that while many Australian fintechs are doing a great job of improving stagnant processes, "there will always be a better way".
Hayden said that existing mortgage processes are time-consuming, but that "rethinking lending and other financial services presents an awesome challenge."