Gambling On A Fully-Mobile Mortgage Future

Developer of Bee app claims an entirely contactless process coming soon

Sarah Wolak Headshot
Sarah Wolak

‘Netflix Of Mortgages’

Wood says that the app is targeting consumers who “live on their phones.” In other words, younger homebuyers are the app’s demographic. So far, Wood said that beta testers are comparing the app to Uber and Venmo, some even going as far as to deem Bee the "Netflix of mortgages" because of the ability to essentially stream a mortgage on-demand.

Wood has a background in finance as a loan officer. He’s also dabbled in the areas of mobile app development and blockchain technology, previously working for a software development company that built white-label mobile apps for some major brands such as Neiman Marcus, Home Depot and Moe's Southwest Grill. Wood got the idea for Bee while working as a loan officer and constantly being asked if his company had a mobile app. “Sadly, I would have to tell them no,” said Wood. 

The app promotes itself as a contactless way of completing a mortgage in under 10 minutes, with the app being able to process between 70% and 80% of origination data without any loan officer involvement. Pre-approval allegedly takes just minutes and real-life loan updates are sent via the app’s portal. As the broker, Bee is the primary and only point of contact for borrowers with each of the lenders they work with.

Connor Borrego, chief product officer at UniPro, Inc., said that if Bee is offering conventional mortgages as a reseller, they could potentially resell mortgages that were being offered by crypto lending platforms. In other words, Borrego says that Bee could offer more competitive interest rates to their users for their home mortgages.

“I imagine because mortgages are just a subset of the larger finance industry that some sort of project will emerge, but most of what I have seen to date has been around creating NFTs for the deeds to properties, and allowing home sales to occur using crypto as a form of payment,” Borrego said. Borrego says that it seems like they are already tackling bias-fre executions. Since Web3 would allow Bee users to have control over their data and what is shared at the time of application, Borrego says that it could potentially move towards the removal of bias from the application process.

The primary hurdle to a tech stack that can power a mobile mortgage is the decisioning protocol. If a loan officer is needed in any way to process the 1003 data, then it’s not a mobile mortgage process the buyer can do whenever they want from wherever they want–like they can order a ride with Uber or buy stocks with Robinhood without having to go through a human taxi dispatcher or stock broker. All digital lenders today use a human loan officer and processor as their primary decisioning protocol for the uniform residential loan application.

For users that don’t want to be totally hands-free from the mortgage process, Wood says that the app offers a chat option–which resembles Instagram’s direct message function–for users to talk in real time with a certified loan officer. 

Wood has no qualms about kick starting his app as a recession looms in the distance. “Some of the most successful companies in history were started in recessions including Microsoft, IBM, HP, GE, GM, Disney, Hyatt, Publix, Trader Joe’s, FedEx, and Google, Facebook and Salesforce,” Wood said.

Convenience

Wood said that Bee’s convenience caters towards first-time homebuyers, specifically millennials and Gen Z. who are already used to doing everything on their phones. “Mobile adapters for apps are already in the marketplace. Basically everything done in personal finance is mobile, and eventually everything will trend to be mobile,” Wood said.

The app is currently supported by Byrdie, a custom loan origination software (LOS) enhanced with Web3 technology. The Jacksonville-based app plans to launch for Florida users at the end of September. 

Bee’s website advertises a team of industry experts with 13 years of experience in mortgage lending, eight years of working in blockchain and 12 years of real estate experience. Wood is currently the only loan officer on the team due to the app’s limited beta trial, but expects to hire a slew of loan officers within the next two months.

Recently, Bee has expanded its board of directors, adding user engagement expert Bryan Schroeder, who is currently the director of Global Market Solutions at Facebook, and Ken Allen, who has over 20 years of experience leading risk management and fraud-related departments for organizations like Equifax, Western Union, and Capital One.

Allen’s background in security makes him a crucial asset to Bee, as the app holds sensitive consumer data like banking information and property value. Wood said that the company is currently undergoing a SOC2 certification, which is a voluntary compliance to double the app’s security. With this certification, Wood says that Bee will exceed bank-level security.

“We’re building this app from the ground up and can foresee [SOC2] certifications becoming a requirement as finance continues to become mobile,” said Wood. “Ten years ago, five of the top 10 lenders did not exist. The mortgage industry is undergoing accelerated changes that only happen once in a generation.”

Also on Bee’s board are Bryan Schroeder, who serves as user engagement expert and also works as Director of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook. According to Wood, Shroeder is helping Bee designers create the ideal user experience for getting a mortgage.

Wood anticipates that the app will be released to the general public around November following the Florida launch. “Although our audience has been only a handful of specific mortgage customers, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive,” said Wood.

Sarah Wolak Headshot
Sarah Wolak,
Staff Writer
This article was originally published in the Mortgage Banker Magazine August 2022 issue.
Published on
Aug 16, 2022
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