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‘Mobile first’ seems to be the latest mantra being bandied about in the banking technology space. Having been around the block a few times, you get used to these buzzwords coming and going, and as usual it’s sufficiently vague and open to interpretation that trying to separate the signal from the noise is a bit like using a microscope to look at a cloud (that’s another one).

Clearly ‘mobile first’ as a philosophy is all about putting smart phone and tablet applications on an equal or higher footing compared with desktop-based systems, taking advantage of touch controls, camera, location and all the other mobile gizmos, but how does that translate into the world of financial transactions, where brokers and borrowers have to contend with a vast quantity of information travelling in all directions?

Does an introducer really want to use the on-screen keyboard to capture large amounts of information in a small scrolling window? Is an applicant happy to sift through reams of small-print documentation by pinching and swiping?  Is the ability to upload a bank statement using a phone’s camera the killer application that will drive a seismic shift away from the trusty PC?

Historically our answer to these questions would have been a qualified ‘no’. The mortgage market is not known for being at the bleeding edge of technology (just see how far the domestic insurance industry has come on by comparison), and there is a perceived inertia that presumes mortgage professionals and their clients are never happier than when sitting at a PC with a keyboard and mouse.

But things are changing, and the momentum is growing. More and more PC screens now have built-in touch capability; Windows 10 is being rolled out across all Microsoft’s supported devices, and Apple has announced the iPad Pro, a tablet available with a full sized keyboard and a higher screen resolution than many laptops. Perhaps most importantly, research shows that customers expect to be able to engage with banks using whichever device is most convenient. Yes they may want to fill in their expenditure sitting at a desk, but they then want to be able to pick up the process wherever they are and using the platform that makes sense at the time.

Drawing together the constituent parts to make this happen is the next big challenge in lending technology.

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