Westpac has invested $16.5 million in uno Home Loans, a Sydney-based digital mortgage service that has attracted a number of investors since launching in May.
According to uno CEO and founder, Vincent Turner, the platform (pronounced ‘you know’) was established to give people “greater control over the home loan process and the confidence to achieve the best deal” by providing direct visibility to lenders’ products, access to support and advice available via chat, phone and video, and the ability to search, compare and settle in one place.
“We’ve grown to 34 employees to meet the service demands of thousands of registered customers who have used the platform to compare more than $400 million worth of mortgages,” Turner said. “With the support of our investors we’ve worked hard to test and enhance the customer experience.”
Gary Thursby, Chief Strategy Officer at Westpac, said the early stage fintech company is driving digital innovation in the financial services sector and has the potential to become a serious player in the home loan market.
Dynamic Business spoke to Turner about uno’s progress since launch, it’s growth strategy and USP.
Westpac’s investment: “We’ll be using it to ramp up our digital spend. The last three months has been a test and learn phase, so the focus hasn’t been on ramping up marketing until now. Secondly, we’ll be using it to form partnerships with existing digital platforms and so reach audiences we can work with. We’ll also be investing in product engineering and scaling our 24/7 service team whose members are not paid sales commission – they are salaried employees. It’s more a service culture than a sales culture.”
Success to date: “Of the more than $400 million worth of mortgages compared on the platform, around 10% or $40 million, have been turned into a deal that is progressing or might progress. We’ve managed to settle millions of dollars’ worth of loans already, which great considering it takes a couple of months to settle a loans.”
A digital service: “For a growing segment of consumers, digital services are a compelling proposition. They’re used to using services like Uber and Airbnb and they’re increasingly used to digital interactions but with people available, if needed. Some people would still prefer to see a broker face to face but a growing number of people are going to want to do something digitally – so we’re servicing that customer, that’s a growing need. It’s a digital service model that busy professionals are warming to because they can spread out the service interactions into smaller chunks across phone, video and chat.”
Competition: “We’re not too worried about competition at this stage. It’s a massive industry; banks pay brokers around $1.8 billion per year. A lot of people who perhaps look like they’re competing with us really are digital front doors to then ultimately sell leads to brokers – we’re not that. From a customer perspective, it might look similar in that you can go to a website and look for products and services but ultimately, they’re going to send you somewhere else, whereas we’re enabling customers to compare and settle all in one place.”