Artificial intelligence that can make a mortgage decision in 15 minutes — that is the proposition that M:QUBE, a new fintech startup, plans to use to shake up the £270bn UK home loans market from early next year.
The UK mortgage market is still heavily dominated by the “big six” consumer banks and mortgage decisions can still take weeks to process.
“It is the last bastion of the financial services industry that has not been innovated,” says Stuart Cheetham, cofounder and chief executive.
Cheetham and his cofounder Richard Fitch have raised a £5m seed round from investors, including Allianz-backed venture capital fund AV8, IQ Capital and JamJar Investments, to support the launch.
A number of startups have tackled aspects of the mortgage market; for example, online mortgage brokers Habito and Trussle have entered the market, and Habito has also recently started offering loans. M:QUBE is also going beyond broking to actually issuing the mortgages, and will look to work in partnership with financial institutions who will supply the capital. It will act as a lender, holding the mortgage deeds.
Its model is similar to Rocket Mortgage in the US, which was launched five years ago and has since become one of the country’s biggest mortgage lenders. In Europe the closest competitor is Sweden’s Lendify, which offers low-cost personal loans and is looking to move into mortgages.
M:QUBE’s unique selling point is that it uses artificial intelligence to extract data more quickly about borrowers than conventional lenders. Cheetham says the company will typically collect five to seven times more data than conventional mortgage lenders, mainly extracted from bank statements, to help decide if a customer really can afford the loan they are seeking.
The company also collects data on the property being mortgaged — everything from flood risk to nearby rail links — to get an accurate valuation.
Cheetham, who was previously responsible for Lloyds Bank’s banking operations in Asia, says the company plans to expand the service to the rest of Europe if the UK launch goes well.