The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has confirmed that its soon-to-be-launched digital home loan, Unloan (part of its venture-scaling entity x15ventures), will be launched predominantly direct via digital channels.
The upcoming direct-to-consumer digital mortgage offering called Unloan, backed by x15, was first flagged last month and is expected to launch “at the end of the year”.
When asked by Mortgage Business about the new product and its distribution, CBA’s group executive of retail banking services, Angus Sullivan, confirmed that it would launch as a direct-to-consumer product.
He said: “This passage towards digitisation and the incredible shift that we’re seeing in the way that customers interact with us provides part of the opportunity for Unloan.
“At the heart of what we’re trying to achieve with it is a dramatically new technology and processing infrastructure that allows us to approve a customer for a home loan in amazingly rapid turnaround times; targeting that 10-minute space.
“And, if you want to put great value in the hands of the customer, it’s incredibly important to have a low-cost distribution. One of the huge advantages that comes out of a digital model is that it is a low-cost distribution channel and that means you can put great value in the hands of the customer and you can also create great direct-to-customer digital experiences.
“So, we will be focused on digital direct distribution to start with. It will have some connectivity through to CommBank, but we’re very very excited about what’s being built in that space.”
New strategic partnership announced
The news comes after CBA announced x15 had entered a new strategic partnership designed to extend its “end-to-end digital home buying solution”.
It has announced a new strategic partnership with Australian property management company :Different, as it takes a minority shareholding in the company.
Under the strategic partnership, CBA and :Different will collaborate on exclusive offers and benefits to reach home owners across the country.
It will be made available to customers through the CommBank app later this calendar year, and is currently looking at “experiment[ing] with other distribution channels in the portfolio of x15” such as having referral/introductions via Home-in and Unloan.
Founded by ex-Silicon Valley executives, Mina Radhakrishnan and Ruwin Perera in 2017, :Different bills itself as a “property management disruptor” that provides management services (such as streamlining the process to report, quote and manage maintenance requests) via an app for property investors/owners and links them to a team of property partners. It currently services properties across Australia’s eastern seaboard.
The tech provider has also raised $25 million in a Series B round (led by CBA and venture capitalist Antler) as it sets sights on expanding nationally, and building its team of property managers and technology platform.
The partnership comes as the major bank looks to provide more digital solutions to the home-buying process, including digital mortgages.
Unveiling the new partnership, Mr Sullivan, stated: “As the country’s biggest supporter of getting Aussies into homes, we aim to be the most trusted partner at the centre of our customer’s lives and be there for them at moments that matter.
“Today’s announcement to partner with such a disruptive business further differentiates and expands what we are able to deliver for our investor home loan customers.”
He added that this partnership was part of CBA’s move to “carefully [select] a high-profile, high-growth tech enabled business and exclusively introducing them to CBA customers to offer an enhanced level of service”.
“We see this partnership as an important part of our overall home buying strategy and one that will be core to the way we support our customers to manage their homes and grow their wealth,” he said.
Toby Norton-Smith, the managing director of x15ventures, who joins the board of :Different, noted that the partnership and investment build on the group’s home-buying solutions.
“[T]he property sector is clearly a space where we feel we can develop the next generation of high quality digital services for home buyers, property investors and property managers,” Mr Norton-Smith said.
“We’ve added significant breadth to CBA’s home buying ecosystem with Credit Savvy, Home-in and now :Different, as well as Unloan, a new type of home loan coming soon.
“Given the important role that CBA plays in the lives of so many Australians, we want to keep investing in and building ventures that deepen that relationship.
“Using :Different’s platform to connect our retail and small business customers means we will be able to provide significant value to tenants and investors alike. Co-founders of :Different, Mina Radhakrishnan and Ruwin Perera, are industry disruptors and we’re excited to help them accelerate their vision.”
Ms Radhakrishnan said: “We started :Different to look after the homes and the people who live in them. Our mission is to be the all-encompassing assistant to the home, and partnering with CBA brings us one step closer to achieving this.
“We are both aligned on the importance of providing great experiences and value to our customers, and this partnership means together, we’ll help millions of Australians access an end-to-end digital home buying solution.”
[Related: Loan deferrals tapering at CBA]
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.