The managing director of online lender loans.com.au, Marie Mortimer, made the comments after an exchange between fellow fintechs Tic:Toc and 86 400.
On Thursday (18 July), digital neo-lender 86 400 was granted a full authorised deposit-taking institution licence by APRA and said it would launch a mortgage offering in the next three months.
Speaking to Mortgage Business at the time, CEO Robert Bell revealed that the lender was “about two to three months away from launching [its] mortgage products” and would be “focusing entirely on mortgage brokers” for its home loan distribution.
He said: “With the number of people that go through mortgage brokers, it is the obvious place to start.
“We don’t think anyone has really solved a direct digital home loan yet – it will probably happen in the future – but we see brokers as absolutely critical to our success and that is why we’re starting with brokers.”
However, the founder and CEO of Adelaide-based fintech Tic:Toc, Anthony Baum, contacted Mortgage Business following these comments to highlight that it was offering digital mortgages already.
Mr Baum hit back at Mr Bell’s comment that no one had “really solved a direct digital home loan yet”, stating it was “not accurate”.
Loans.com.au calls for unity
Noting this exchange, Ms Mortimer urged challenger lenders to not get distracted by new entrants to the market, but instead focus on disrupting the incumbent lenders.
The managing director of the Firstmac-backed lender said: “In this business, it is always easy to look at the latest highly publicised start-up and see them as our competition even though they have no market share yet.
“After eight years of rapid growth, one thing we have learned is to never forget that our real competitors are the four massive banks who take nine out of every 10 home loan customers, year after year, not the new entrants.”
Ms Mortimer said she welcomed new fintechs to the market as they all assisted in the “shared goal” of making consumers more comfortable and aware of using online lenders, thus “breaking down” the oligopoly held by the major banks in Australia.
She added that the different players in the online space also offered innovative solutions to consumers that, “while appearing to be the same on the surface”, are “very different in most cases”.
“What is fantastic about online fintech lenders is that we all have our own technology and IP that is unique to us,” she said.
“There is so much opportunity with the emergence of fintech, and with the current revolution happening in banking and finance, it’s time to break the monopoly and make things better for everyday Australians.”
She concluded: “We are much stronger when we work together to validate each other in the minds of potential customers as a real alternative to the big four while, at the same time, creating credible competition.
“Together, online lenders are making a big difference as an emerging group to be reckoned with.”
[Related: Fintech lender hits back at 86 400 comments]
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.