For the past seven years, the start-up Blend has been moving toward an ambitious goal: simplify the mortgage-application process to the point that prospective buyers can find out whether they qualify for a home loan, and how much they can borrow, nearly instantaneously.
The San Francisco-based start-up, founded in 2012 by a cadre of Palantir alums, provides software to help banks, credit unions, and other lenders offer a smoother, simpler home-loan process to their customers. Using Blend tools fortified by data, automation, and the cloud, lenders can digitize the mortgage-origination process, saving time, cutting costs, reducing human error, and creating a more transparent mobile experience for applicants.
“Because our system is intelligent and we help eliminate a lot of the types of documents that were historically needed by using data instead, the process is lower friction, lower cost as well for the lender,” founder and CEO Nima Ghamsari told Business Insider.
“Eventually, if we’re able to get this to be a truly data-driven process, the process of getting approved for a mortgage should be and will be one tap for a consumer,” Ghamsari, who is featured on Business Insider’s list of 100 people transforming the world of business, added.
How might this work? With the help of machine learning, Blend automatically imports consumer data into the platform at the outset — such as credit reports and bank records that verify assets, employment, and income. Once a customer hits apply, the data is instantly connected with the lender’s systems and an answer is nearly immediately available as to what and how much the borrower is approved for.
They’re getting closer to making the single-tap experience a reality. The company told Business Insider that it’s actively developing a one-tap solution with a couple clients, and a rollout could be deployed in the next year or two.
Blend has built a business that they say now comprises more than 130 lenders that account for 25% of the more than $1 trillion US mortgage market, including giants like Wells Fargo and US Bank.
But they’re also expanding their product offerings, as mortgages aren’t the only consumer-credit product mired in slow, paper-heavy red tape, and a one-tap solution for home loans could be used across financial products, given the similarity in required data.
The company announced last year it was rolling out a mortgage-insurance offering with MetLife, and in February it said it was getting into home-equity loans as well. The firm this month announced it was offering deposit-account opening technology that works in conjunction with its home-lending products.
Blend is in the process of building products for auto loans and unsecured personal loans, as well, the company confirmed.
Part of the larger vision at Blend is that by deploying products that facilitate lending via smartphone, it will expand credit access to borrowers who may not have had the time, knowledge, confidence, or resources to participate previously.
“There are parts of the population banking hasn’t been able to serve as well because it has been so centered on in-person interaction,” Ghamsari said. “Giving people at least the transparency and ability to understand what they can afford in very short order on their mobile device, it creates the ability for us to expand who’s even trying to get credit.”