Leon Rees, a chief technology officer and spokesman for digital strategy at NatWest, said: “We see that using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and data science will deliver better sourcing, better full mortgage applications, better decisions in principles (DIPs), better calculators, and most importantly on the data science side, better products.”
He added that APIs and data science will avoid broker integration with lenders’ portals and allow the lender to ‘come into your process.’
Rees explained the high street bank’s broker-focused digital plans at a Local Broker Insight event held at the Bishopsgate Institute in London last week.
Rees said everyone is aware that APIs are a channel but added that a transformational conduit breaks down information into the best journey for the customer and NatWest’s APIs are already in testing phase on a timeline.
He confirmed eight APIs will be in production from the end of the year with the document uploads and process improvement APIs expected out in 2020.
Brokers keen to test them out can ask for them, take a look and ‘start to play with them’ if they choose.
He added: “If you can sit down with the customer and say okay, I’ve got a NatWest API that has shown me your property and mortgage information, I’ve got a NatWest API that has shown me which of your sub-accounts are eligible to switch, I’ve done some sourcing and I’ve pulled that into a journey as well, you can provide a much better experience for the customer,” he added.
As a bank, NatWest is scanning other parts of the market and seeing other channels building these journeys and wants to make sure it can offer this technology and interact with other parts of the ‘mortgage ecosystem.’
The lightbulb comparison
Rees said APIs are like lightbulbs in that there are two formats which never change – screw and bayonet – despite the market evolving substantially.
This way, he said the bank plans to build a raft of APIs with different functions – DIP, scorecard, faster eligibility response and brokers will be able to plug into these and create a better customer journey.
“We’re going to combine this DIP with some other stuff, we’re going to write a companion app for our customers and we’re going to use the NatWest DIP to get that done,” he added.
Rees confirmed the bank is working alongside the sourcing systems Twenty7Tec and Mortgage Brain to deliver these functions to brokers.
Rees explained simplifying the document upload process is next, but the lender is getting ready to offer larger brokers partnership tools for the consumer.
“If you’re a large broker and you want to get really close to your customer and start integrating further up in their home-buying journey, we will give you access to our ability to verify income and expenditure, we will give you access to our ability to validate ID and we will give you access to our valuation engines for property as well.”
The bank continues to develop and test its customer analytics processes, which will eventually dovetail into broker Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
This analysis will be used to assess customer affordability and where customers are at the edge of perceived risk, unearth better ways to assess them, said Rees.
He suggested the bank is keen to move to a data sharing place where brokers can use the APIs and understand how loans and customers perform to better inform the advice process.
Rees summarised that in essence, the bank wanted to remove bad process, optimise broker tools and give advisers back their time so they can deepen and broaden the customer experience.