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First Mortgage Services shifts conveyancing from paper to the IBM cloud
Business Insight 270004899S firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  it ibm_cloud paperless_conveyancing propel-lc web_based_application business_optimisation vss_platform electronic_conveyancing
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With its web-delivered propel-lc application for lawyers and lenders, First Mortgage Services is using IBM's Virtual Server Services to offer a paperless mortgage approval process that can significantly speed property transactions.
Anyone who has ever borrowed to buy a property knows there is plenty of paperwork and time involved in the loan application process. Not without reason; with a lot at stake, property transactions have many bureaucratic boxes to tick.
Auckland company First Mortgage Services (FMS) saw this as an opportunity to stand out in what is effectively a low-margin, high-volume business. With web-based application propel-lc, it is offering lawyers and lenders a way to eliminate the paper, reduce costs, speed up processing and improve the conveyancing experience for all those involved.
'What we do is commodity work' says FMS founder and managing director Jonathan Flaws, a former senior partner at a large commercial law firm. 'The trouble with commodities is that the only competitive advantage you have is price. But in our area it's very hard to play with the price, so your unique selling proposition becomes the ability to deliver services really efficiently. And the only way to achieve that is through the use of technology'. Reliance on in-house developed technology is FMS's hallmark, and propel-lc, launched in mid-2010, is the company's latest innovation.
'There is nothing like it in the New Zealand market. This is the future of electronic conveyancing today' says Jeremy Bendall, General Manager, propel-lc.
As with the adoption of EFTPOS, once accepted, Jeremy predicts that use of propel-lc will become 'second nature' to legal and banking users and propel-lc will become the preferred platform for electronic settlements. Security and availability paramount. Propel-lc is a hosted application, but FMS knew from the outset that the legal and lending industries' security and continuity of service requirements ruled out hosting it in-house.
So, the company got in contact with IBM, while the Virtual Server Services (VSS) cloud offering was still in its development process. 'We talked to IBM in the early stages of developing that service, so it was able to develop something that closely matched what we were wanting to do', says Craig Carter, CIO. Analysis of the resilience and backup capabilities of IBM's data centres also gave FMS a message it could confidently take to customers. Flaws explains: 'Banks and lawyers are under huge client-confidentiality requirements so it's essential that the solution we provide over the cloud ticks all those boxes'.
PKI Vault takes the convenience of propel-lc a step further. Effectively an extension of secure internet banking, it allows borrowers to sign a loan agreement online.
FMS has opted for IBM's VSS cloud computing offering to host propel-lc, an application that enables the secure exchange of documents, data and messages between lawyers and lenders. In addition, it is using PKI Vault, IBM's hosted public key infrastructure service for digital document signing.
'We're always asked: Who are you and how scalable is the service? If we give you a big volume of business, can you cope? Our answer, with IBM and propel-lc, is that that's not even an issue,' Flaws concludes.
Business benefits of IBM cloud
On-demand service with usage-based billing means that the business only pays for what they use or need. This allows operations to be scalable and to react to demand, making the business function more efficiently. The business is able to choose the level of security that is appropriate for them as they have access to a number of security options available on the cloud infrastructure through the new IBM Auckland Data Centre.
Flexible operating system enables the business to select a preconfigured template server image or provide their own server image. 'We don't have to worry about any of the detail of the VSS platform but we're free to configure it and use it as we see fit. It's the perfect situation; highly flexible and highly available, but we don't have to worry about it,' says Carter.
Read the full IBM cloud case study here