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Better Choice updates VOI, e-signature policy

A mortgage lender has announced that it will accept remote VOI methods via video facilities, as well as electronic signatures on forms.

Mortgage lender Better Choice Home Loans has joined several other lenders in making changes to its verification of identification (VOI) requirements, while also accepting electronic signatures on documents and forms.

Executive director Allan Savins said that to help comply with the social distancing rules imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Better Choice will now accept VOI completed via video facilities if face-to-face contact is not possible.

“Better Choice has made a number of changes to our VOI requirements as a result of COVID-19,” Mr Savins said.

The lender will now accept the use of video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, Facetime or Microsoft Teams, to complete VOI requirements.

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“The interviewer will need to record and sign a simple declaration stating the date of the video meeting as well as the identification displayed by the borrower,” Mr Savins said.

“Better Choice will also now accept brokers and borrowers’ digital and electronic signatures on our application forms and supporting documents.”

Several other lenders have changed their home loan policies earlier this year to comply with social distancing measures, including allowing virtual video appointments and enabling remote VOI.

Legal frameworks were temporarily modified to enable these policy changes.

The Australian Registrars’ National Electronic Conveyancing Council (ARNECC) recently advised that its proposed amendment to the VOI regime requiring brokers and lenders to first apply the VOI standard prior to utilising reasonable steps will no longer form part of the updated rules.

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ARNECC had also previously stated that from 3 August, it would require the identity verifier and the person being identified to both be physically present at the face-to-face, in-person interview.

However, this implementation date will no longer apply.

A coalition of associations has now called for these rules to be made permanent to enable mortgages to be processed digitally.

The coalition, which includes the Australian Banking Association (ABA), has argued that the temporary introduction of measures introduced during the pandemic, such as electronic mortgages, witnessing a document over video call and signing documents electronically, should be made permanent to save time, money and hassle for customers.

The coalition of associations is writing to each member of the national cabinet to make these changes permanent.

ABA CEO Anna Bligh said consumers would be the winners if the changes were made permanent.

[Related: Bank adopts digital DVS, pre-application form]

Better Choice updates VOI, e-signature policy
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Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.

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