Westpac launches ‘fast-approval’ digital re-financing service

Westpac Digital Mortgage
13th JULY 2022, Westpac, digital, home online. Photo by Damian Shaw / WESTPAC

Westpac has become the next big four bank to launch its own rapid approval digital mortgage service, promising customers unconditional ‘time to yes’ in as little as 10 minutes.

As part of a wider tech revamp, Westpac Group chief executive Peter King said the service effectively digitalises Westpac’s end-to-end mortgage processes, “[making] the time from application to unconditional approval easier and faster, with no paperwork.”

Westpac notes that the digital application and assessment process draws on third-party data sources, as well as “advanced analytics”, to perform credit checks, verify financials, and perform property valuation.

Richard Burton, Westpac’s managing director of mortgages, added: “We’re making it simpler for our customers because we’re doing a lot of the hard work.

“So, no more payslips, no more credit card or bank statements. Instead, we’re using data and analytics to make the right responsible lending and credit decisions.

“Increasingly, our customers are getting more comfortable living in a digital world, and we have to be right there with them,” he added.

Westpac said it will roll out the digital mortgage in the final quarter of this calendar year, though it will initially restrict the service to customers refinancing through the bank’s Flexi First Option home loan. The service is expected to be expanded to more customers throughout 2023.

Digital mortgage applicants will be required to have 20 per cent equity in the property and be on a PAYG income.

“We are starting by targeting new or existing owner-occupiers looking to refinance, but over time the benefits will be felt by more customers,” King said.

Westpac Consumer and Business Banking chief executive, Chris de Bruin spruiked the digital mortgage solution as a “simpler and faster” way for customers to re-finance – so long as they meet key approval criteria.

“Historically, refinancing can take weeks and involve multiple manual processes,” de Bruin said.

“From application through to unconditional home loan approval, customers are likely to experience much faster mortgage processing provided they meet the criteria.”

de Bruin added: “While we are speeding up the home loan process, we are still performing the right checks and balances to ensure we are lending responsibly.”

Alternatively, those customers that do not meet the criteria for the digital loan or have more complex needs will have their applications assessed by a lender.

de Bruin said the digitalisation of this re-financing option also serves as a proof point to help accelerate approval times for a wider range of home loan applications, including for customers seeking face-to-face service through Westpac’s bankers and broker network.

Westpac’s fast-approvals mortgage service follows on the heels of CBA’s own digital mortgage product, dubbed Unloan, launched back in May this year.

Touted by CBA as a streamlined loans service, and developed in cooperation with its venture scaler arm x15, Unloan also promises a ‘time to yes’ in as little as 10 minutes, offering a single variable rate of 2.14 per cent per annum on loans up to $3 million.

App upgrades

Westpac also announced a number of upgrades to its digital banking service to be “rolled out over coming months”, including:

  • Spend tracking: the ability to track and categorise expenses to help manage the cost of living; new budgeting tools and the ability to view accounts from multiple financial institutions, which Westpac said will give customers “a better overview of their finances”;
  • Carbon footprint tracking: Westpac will partner with sustainability fintech CoGo to help customers track their carbon footprint and make more environmentally friendly spending choices;
  • A dedicated Westpac Business app: Westpac will roll out its banking app for its business customers, “making banking easier, faster and more secure”, it said.