Technology finds a way to deal with the mortgage

For many people, acquiring a mortgage is a humiliating process. Help may finally be at hand.

mortgageThe contemporary mortgage crisis is the worst factor of living in a world where land is at a premium and the banks are only interested in mortgaging to those who fit into its primitive algorithm of who is reliable.

In the West before the recession of 2008, such crises were evanescent, banks were lending to anybody who could (and in many cases couldn’t) afford it and the global economy seemed as safe as buying property.

Then it changed forever. As interest rates plummeted, those who were smart enough to be on tracker mortgages saw their monthly payment similarly plummet, but for others the story was a nightmare.

In certain parts of the UK, not least inner-city apartments, people fell into negative equity, revisiting the terrible times of the late 1980s when interest rates were more than 20%.

Over the intervening eight years, however, the housing market in the UK didn’t crash and everything seemed good in the mortgage garden. However, the patina could not cover the rust within; the problem wasn’t with house prices or even mortgage prices, it was with the mortgages themselves.

Banks are now terrified to lend to anybody who lives differently or take risks. Imagine a world of entrepreneurs where venture capitalists refused to lend them money. A ridiculous situation, but that’s the current state of play with mortgages.

It seems incongruous in a world where technology has changed everything since the 2008 crisis that technology hadn’t improved the mortgage process.

At that time platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, JustEat and others hardly existed, but they all served a purpose – they updated legacy systems what were defunct. Where was that magnificent product that banks would use or be disrupted by?

Finally, that process may have been streamlined and it is one that has bypassed the banks. While the likes of Zoopla have also become platforms to search for and price property, its deal last week with UK online mortgage broker Trussle may mark a watershed in how people are judged when applying for money to make a home with.

Following a strategic partnership and investment round earlier this year, Zoopla and Trussle have joined forces to launch a digital service that transforms the finding and financing of a home into one seamless consumer ‘journey’.

This so-called ‘PropTech’ partnership and state-of-the-art algorithm allows homebuyers to search for a property and find out in less than 60 seconds if they qualify to borrow the amount they need for their property of choice.

No time-wasting meetings with bank managers, no modern-day humiliating cap-in-hand Means Tests, an online experience based on people’s real profiles and abilities, not the outdated ones used by banks.

If mortgage-searchers qualify, they will receive a ‘Mortgage in Principle’ in less than five minutes and go on to secure that mortgage within 24 hours.

This affordability data is then also used to drive future searches, presenting newbuyers with other affordable properties in desirable postcodes.

The new service is made possible by Trussle’s proprietary technology. an algorithm that compares more 90 lenders in real time to give potential homebuyers the best value mortgage on the open market, faster than any other broker, bank or building society.

“Innovation in the PropTech sector is accelerating fast, and this partnership with Zoopla will transform the way people buy a home. Whether booking a holiday or buying a car, people are increasingly expecting to use a single platform to make the experience as streamlined as possible.

“We think we’ve finally solve the frustrations of homebuyers across the UK to make the process of buying a home quick, clear and straightforward,” said Ishaan Malhi, Founder and CEO, Trussle.

Established in December 2015 as the UK’s first online mortgage broker, Trussle has been backed by some of Europe’s leading technology investors including LocalGlobe, Ed Wray (founder of Betfair) Ian Hogarth (founder of Songkick), and Seedcamp.

Recent research by the company found that the average homeowner is losing out on saving £2,844 a year by not switching their mortgage at the end of a fixed period. Until they do, banks will continue to make £57 million a day, which totals £22 billion a year.

As with most products of this kind, the success of Trussle will be determined by user acquisition and retention, one that startups often have to throw resources at. However, with the relationship with Zoopla, they go straight to an already engaged audience.

The wait for a modern mortgage product defined by the latest technology, unlike that held by complacent banks, has been a long one. Hopefully, Trussle will disrupt the market to such an extent that bad mortgage business will be over for good.

Online shopping engine Styloko launches in the US

Styloko now has a US-dedicated site for American customers.

Styloko now has a US-dedicated site for American customers.

London-based shopping discovery engine Styloko has expanded its business outside the UK by launching a new site in the US.

With more than 30% of traffic already coming to Styloko from the US market, the new site allows American fashion-conscious females to discover and connect with their favourite designer and High Street brands and retailers, including those currently on the UK site.

With prices now displayed in dollars, international shopping is made even easier with brands such as ASOS, Net-a-Porter, Topshop and, in addition to US favourites currently also on the UK site such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s. Continue reading

FTC clears Google for monopoly abuse, but will the EU?

GUEST POST: Will Becker is the MD and co-founder of Media Ingenuity, the corporate parent of

Google IceLast week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it would not be taking legal action against Google for monopolistic abuses provided that Google changed some of its business practices relating to mobile patents.

Interestingly, it found that Google had not skewed its search results to favour its own ‘vertical search’ products. That seems a strange finding as it is unlikely that the EU’s competition commission will come to the same conclusion at the end of a similar two-year investigation. Continue reading