A quiet revolution is happening online that could challenge the major banks’ home loans dominion.
Cyberspace, as the frontier for consumer markets, is awash with stock standard Web 2.0 companies serving up a list of competing home loan offers, leaving the consumer to wade through, assess, and apply for mortgages. Now a new player has appeared offering a new platform that manages this process from start to finish with minimum effort and maximum value for the consumer.
"HashChing" launched its initial trial in May 2015 having raised $100,000 in seed investment. The crucial difference with this platform is that it is designed to enable Mortgage Brokers, not Bankers, to power it.
What is HashChing?
On the site, Brokers put forward to customers the best-negotiated offers they currently have from lending institutions around the country and offer up other discounts - such as waiving the application fee - that are hard, if not impossible to achieve if consumers go directly to the bank.
As a result, the consumer wins. Once a customer finds the deal that meets their needs, they are automatically connected to a local Mortgage Broker who then handles the rest of the application process on their behalf.
For the consumer, it means far less time and fuss to get the best home loan deal available. For the banks, it could mean a radical change to their comfortable grip on the lions share of the mortgage market and pressure to provide more competitive home loan solutions and better standards of customer service.
Who are HashChing?
The founders of HashChing are Mandeep Sodhi, who brings more than eight years experience in the financial services industry, and Atul Narang, who provided the technical expertise to build and develop the site.
The idea for HashChing came when Mandeep applied for a home loan himself. Despite years of experience in finance, he found the process time consuming and unfriendly. He discovered that negotiating a discount directly with major banks was very difficult to achieve.
Mandeep knew there had to be a better way. Consumers now have access to services immediately through companies like Uber and Airbnb and consumers now expect similar experiences in banking. After investigating the market, he found that other comparison sites were preferencing lenders directly, and could see that a better business model would be comparatively engaging with Mortgage Brokers.
"It is the mortgage brokers who have the power to waive application fees by refunding some of their own commission to the borrower, and it is the mortgage brokers who are writing the majority of home loans in Australia (now over 52%). We saw a chance to create a robust business while providing more savings, more choice and more convenience to Australian consumers," said Mandeep.
The Story So Far
The 3-month trial that ends on 31st July 2015 saw 25 mortgage brokers sign up to trial the site, generated approximately 800 unique visitors per day and created a total of 89 leads worth AU$32 million for those brokers. This trial was designed to test out the platform and prep it for a much wider outreach campaign which will see 900 brokers join the platform. As the news has spread, brokers are rushing to join those 15 original crusaders.
With this influx of new brokers to the platform, consumers will see the offers segmented depending on their postcode. This will ensure that consumers can have access to a wide variety of brokers within their immediate vicinity.
For HashChing, this will also validate the financial model of their platform. The business charges the broker a monthly fee, as well as, a small commission on each deal that HashChing shares with consumers in the form of cash-back. This provides a win-win, as HashChing delivers a steady stream of customers looking to secure a new mortgage to the brokers on the platform.
But HashChing is aiming to be more than a successful business. They aim to be a force to be reckoned with in cajoling the banks in Australia to seriously lift their game. To that end, they have developed a patented application that auto-tags banks on Twitter and Facebook anytime someone posts a public review of a bank’s product on HashChing.
Mandeep says, "This has the benefit of driving more traffic to us as people see the exchange of messages from their Twitter or Facebook accounts. But we are also committed to provoking banks to respond rapidly to consumers concerns and provide higher standards of customer service."
The Future With HashChing
HashChing might just change the game. DataMonitor’s FinTrack innovation in finance report in May 2015 gave HashChing a 5/5 rating for originality, longevity, being operationally game changing for providers, significantly improving user experience, and being market changing. The arena of home loans could be about to transform, and rapidly, with HashChing leading the game.