With Westpac being the most recent player to join in on the 10-minute mortgage race, it's pretty clear digital home loans are solidly the next big thing in the market.
Digital home loans are still in their infancy in Australia, but the pace is picking up - both literally and figuratively - because they cut down the cumbersome and lengthy loan-application process.
Technology has now made it possible – and easy – to apply for a home loan and get approval within minutes, without even having to step out the door.
Also read: Home loan pre-approval: a step-by-step guide
In an interview, RateCity.com.au research director Sally Tindall explained that the lending industry had seen a major shake-up, with fintech lenders like Toc:Toc, Nano and OneTwo Home Loans speeding up the loan-application process.
Tindall further explained that, during COVID, logistical challenges and a huge increase in new lending and finance strained the sluggish approval times by the big banks even more.
“It put the spotlight on turnaround times,” Tindall said.
[The big banks'] processing times really blew out during COVID. It is good to see the banks reviewing this space to speed things up.”
This, she added, was particularly good news for customers, given rising interest rates.
What it is and how it works
Digital home loans are mortgages made available through fintech (financial technology) lenders – otherwise known as neobanks or digital banks – and use technology throughout the application process.
Unlike the traditional home loan process that involves filling out multiple application forms and supplying a number of documents, digital home loans harness the power of open banking, algorithms and APIs to hasten the approval process.
Australia has a few players in this space, which include Tic:Toc, Nano, OneTwo and Ubank.
CBA, ANZ and NAB, in turn, joined this ramped-up home loans race, with Westpac becoming the most recent player to throw its hat in the ring offering fast-tracked home loans.
With Australia’s Big Four banking institutions on board, several mortgage lenders have also joined the home loans race with online and app-based application processes.
Each lender, however, has a different way of measuring their speed.
Tindall said some measured the time it took for an applicant to gain approval, while others measured it by the length of the application process.
Either way, for anyone requiring a quick loan approval, it can be done in record time.
Pros and cons
Specialist digital lenders however, tend to be quite limited in the number of financial services they offer compared to more traditional banks and mortgage lenders.
Usual overhead costs such as maintaining a physical facility and ATMs are eliminated, so these neobanks are usually able to pass on savings as lower rates and fees.
While digital home loans have a swift application process, approval time and low rates, these 10-minute loans also generally tend to serve customers with “simple borrowing needs” and are not really suited for those whose needs are slightly out of the box.
“But this is just the beginning of the journey. We can expect these fast approval times will apply to more and more customers,” Tindall said.
When it comes to home loans, Tindall advised borrowers to not overlook fintech lenders.
“People should not overlook them because of their names. Some of them are backed by big banks and have been around for many years,” she said.
“The key is to do your research. Go through their website. Pick up the phone and test their customer service. Check out their live chat. Go to social media and check the reviews.”
RateCity also provided a list of other lenders offering fast application/approval processes, which include: Bendigo Express and Up (both powered by Tic:Toc), Macquarie Bank and Unloan.