FOR two years I have been working on an IT project at yes.ie.

It is all about self-driving mortgages and insurance, which can be easily done on a mobile phone, computer or tablet.

 Banks are closer than you think to rolling out digital mortgage applications

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Banks are closer than you think to rolling out digital mortgage applicationsCredit: Getty – Contributor

If you think about the way that artificial intelligence is going, it will mean that a lot of us — myself included — will have to rethink the way that we add value to people’s lives.

In the past, financial services was a fairly inefficient area. Even as e-commerce grew in certain sectors it didn’t take off to the same extent in mortgages and insurance.

Part of that is structural — banks have large legacy systems and they can’t bring out something new unless it works 100 per cent of the time.

Another issue was that there is a large difference between selling something over the internet and doing a large financial transaction.

Some parts of the industry are held back by existing ways of doing things versus possible and fully legal ways of doing things. Did you ever download some software and click a box saying that you agreed to the terms and conditions?

That’s a perfectly legal way of signing a contract, but in financial services there is still a tendency to want ink on paper signatures.

Another area that has hampered change is financial regulation. While regulation is itself a good thing, it’s difficult to digitize certain elements of it.

Sometimes a requirement is brand new and existing systems were created without that change in mind.

For instance, when the new rules on mortgage lending came in after 2014, banks didn’t have systems in place to keep track of exceptions, so it has taken whole teams to manage that one particular thing.

Now that consumers and technology have moved so far ahead, there’s an opportunity for all of these things to come together and really change the way things work.

In Ireland, 93 per cent of the population have access to smartphones — the European average is only 67 per cent.

Now that consumers and technology have moved so far ahead, there’s an opportunity for all of these things to come together and really change the way things work.

Yet we are not that far ahead in many industries that go hand-in-hand with mobile technology. Challenger banks are coming in via smartphones, the likes of Revolut are not looking to open branches.

Chances are you have either heard of these new banks and maybe have an account with one or it’s entirely new to you.

That’s how technology goes, it’s all unfathomable until suddenly you are using it. Our own banks are all going through huge digital transformations too, trying to reduce staff numbers and ‘shrink their way to greatness’.

It won’t be easy for them.

Smaller companies can exploit this by rapidly filling gaps that larger companies take a long time to think about.

To me that means creating the possibility to do a mortgage application while you watch telly, then sending your application documents via your mobile phone, while also ensuring a person gets a choice of all the market has to offer.

We are using machine reading and machine learning, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and other cutting edge technologies that are becoming more democratised because they are now more affordable.

This means more competition, but also that jobs like simple administration duties will be lost.

So on one hand you have increased ease of use and technology employment, but on the other you’ll have destruction of traditional jobs. It’s an opportunity and a risk depending on where you are in that mix.

One day you’ll be able to switch your mortgage by simply clicking on a website, saying you want to switch and giving a reading of your fingerprint or eyeball.

That day is far away, but the possibility of such a day is closer than we all think!





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