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How Blockchain is Bringing Technology Conversations Back in Lending

James Vinci, VP, and CTO, Equator

James Vinci joined Equator in 2010 and is the VP and Chief Technology Officer of the Equator business unit for Altisource. Vinci is also responsible for ensuring the successful performance of the company's business mission through development and advance preparation of the company's products and services. Vinci’s role also includes foreseeing, company's service offerings as a web-based business, execution of the latest web-based technologies, and advance planning for future risks and growth. Prior to working at Equator, Vinci was President and Enterprise Architect at RedWire IT, SVP of Professional Services at Lydian Technology Group, and SVP of Professional Services at WellFound Decade Corp. He is a graduate of Columbia University.

Vinci recently spoke to MReport about how the industry can best adapt to and incorporate evolving technology.

M // What is the biggest obstacle for mortgage professionals when it comes to incorporating technology?

Vinci // The adoption rate is actually pretty good in the mortgage industry, however where it gets complicated is the blur between enterprise software and personal software.

Everyone's using their phone. They’re familiar with how intuitive apps are. It is important that those user-friendly best practices continue to get pushed down into enterprise software so technology can be easier to use and adapt. I often ask my staff, "Did you take a class on how to use your iPhone or your Galaxy Note?" No, but we expect our customers to take classes on how to use our software. Enterprise technology needs to be more intuitive. It needs to be easier to use and more focused on what the user is trying to do. I think the obstacle for mortgage professionals is the lack of easy-to-use software.

M // What other changes do you see coming down the pipeline with technology in the industry?

Vinci // There's a lot going on right now, the hot topics in our space are definitely big data and data analytics, blockchain, machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA).

We have to be a more data-focused industry and while we’ve made many strides over the years, there are still those who choose to go in opposite directions from what the data's telling us—and data proves to be right more often than not. Collecting data, understanding data, and then utilizing the data is critical.

Blockchain technology has a lot of opportunity in our industry. One use case that I think will see early adoption is the ability to ensure immutable data and documents. It solves a lot of issues we deal with every day. An easy example is a short sale decline, it is critical to preserving actionable data (e.g. the valuation, offer data, etc) blockchain offers us this ability, ensuring that there was no manipulation of that data behind the scenes, accidental or not. I think we’re going to see some very interesting developments in the blockchain space that will change the way many of us do business. It's very much like the tech revolution that happened 10-15 years ago, there are a lot of very smart people looking to solve complex problems with this technology.

RPA is another interesting technology that has a lot of promise. The ability to easily push the envelope on automation, and therefore efficiency, is always something we need to seriously consider. Many of our processes are repetitive, manual and transactional. They are tailor-made for this technology.

M // Are there any other technology solutions that could really benefit lenders and servicers today?

Vinci // At Equator, we are working hard to assist consumers in their buying process by introducing them to default homes in their searching process. We can connect them directly to the listing agents and asset managers of the servicers that hold the assets. We can also help our servicer customers ensure that they are renovating to the local home buyers standard. Merging all of the supply chain together and tying all of those processes together, in order to make it easier to buy and sell default properties is going to continue, and that's one of the key priorities we're really focused on in our organization.

M // How can companies really utilize technology to better their compliance?

Vinci // Blockchain is bringing technology conversations back to the table. Generally, from a compliance perspective, you need to have a repeatable process that's well documented, that's proven to have the right controls, and a process that you've tested. Using a technology like blockchain, and being very open and systematic about how your system works and what the compliant processes are, is integral to success.

Using workflow technology, and we've been saying this for a long time, is still the right answer to completely handle compliance. Then, when you apply big data, predictive analytics, RPA, and blockchain on top of that you've got yourself a strong, efficient, and auditable situation.

M // Do you have any advice or tips about technology innovations that we should share with our readership?

Vinci // The big thing about technology today is, and blockchain's probably a good example of this, that many technology options can be very appealing, but it is important to remember that technology doesn't solve everything for everyone. You have to be judicial in your technology selection process. Do due diligence, make sure that you're finding the right technology for the right problem and not just a technology that's very popular. The use of vendors that specialize in the technology specifically made for your business is always a great idea. And finally, start small, prove out the technology application and then apply it aggressively.

About Author: David Wharton

David Wharton, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has over 15 years of experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. Wharton and his family currently reside in Arlington, Texas. He can be reached at David.Wharton@theMReport.com.

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