An XML e-commerce standard for the mortgage-sales process that will allow brokers and lenders to cut sales-processing time will be completed next month by financial service technology standards group Origo.
The standard, which will be commercially available in June, will allow brokers to communicate with lenders without having to link their systems seperately.
Paul Pettitt, managing director at Origo, which is funded by companies including Abbey, HBOS, RBS and the Yorkshire Building Society, said standards could change the face of e-commerce in the UK mortgage industry. "Enabling these systems to link and transfer data more efficiently will make life easier, save time for [brokers] and help them provide a more efficient service to their customers."
Abbey is one of the organisations planning to adopt the full standard. Katrina McGregor, head of IT engagement at Abbey for intermediaries, said, "We believe the use of the Origo standards have enabled us to operate with a more rapid and streamlined approach making it more efficient for us, our partners and our customers," she said.
Katie Tucker, technical director at broker Charcoal.com, said standards will allow intermediaries to cut system development and human resource costs.
She said companies spend too much time contacting each lender for information because ecommerce systems speak a different language. "If I currently spend six hours contacting lenders for quotes, [with standards] I can bring this down to an hour and I can [therefore] reduce the number of staff I need," she said.
Richard Farr, director at the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), said the mortgage industry should look closely at standards after they proved successful in the life and pensions sector. "Standards are mature in the life and pensions market and it will be interesting to see if the benefits can be seen in the mortgage market."
A total of £362bn was spent on mortgages in the UK last year with about 70% of this going through about 11,000 broker firms and up to 30,000 qualified advisers, according to the AMI.