Are open platforms the way of the future?

Broker network executives on the benefits of using an open platform approach – and guaranteeing data privacy

Are open platforms the way of the future?

It’s a development that M3’s chief technology officer André Boisvert (pictured above) believes will become increasingly widespread in the coming years in the mortgage industry: a pledge from company to broker and customer that their data rights and privacy will be respected.

Boisvert told Canadian Mortgage Professional that that guarantee – that brokers have full access and control over their data – was a fundamental point of the network’s open platform ethos, one that’s already prevalent in other industries but has yet to permeate the mortgage sector in a meaningful way.

“It’s a value proposition to our brokers,” he said. “Our data pledge is a strong engagement that we will unequivocally respect privacy and data ownership both to the brokers and the customers.

“When you’re going to have multiple platforms integrated to each other using the open approach, you want to make sure that all stakeholders participating in that ecosystem respect that data pledge.”

Boisvert said that M3 had striven to move beyond a “silo” mindset with its embrace of an open platform, which in addition to that data pledge is based around providing open application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable third-party developers to build applications and services around the company’s base technology.

He described the company’s approach as one that was geared towards innovation, enabling third-party integration in what executive vice president Dino Di Pancrazio (pictured below) said was a recognition of the unique needs and methods of each member of its broker community.

Read more: M3 embraces open banking with Flinks deal

“The one thing we recognized early is that brokers don’t all work the same way and there are multiple paths to growth,” Di Pancrazio said. “By taking an open platform approach, we can bring in a ‘best of breed,’ like we just announced recently – MailChimp integration and Zapier integration.

“We can never outspend [those companies] in terms of development and what they’re doing, but by integrating them we get the best out of that world for the specific piece.”

Is commitment to an open platform something that could be expected to grow significantly in the industry in the coming years? Boisvert said it was an approach with a firm eye on the future – one that required a strategic vision for years to come.

“An open platform is almost by definition a long-term strategy,” he said. “First of all, you establish those principles: the strong data pledge, the definition of rich APIs so that the third party can integrate, and then give the freedom of choice for brokers to pick and choose the best of breed and switch from platform to platform because of the capabilities provided.”

Putting public a pledge on data, Boisvert added, is also a measure aimed at demonstrating full commitment to respecting and safeguarding the privacy of the platform’s users, building confidence that it’s not being used for other means.

“What we really wanted to establish in the industry is that we would respect consumers’ privacy at all times,” he said. “Second, we would not get in touch with their customers without the brokers’ consent. We’re not using data for other purposes than what’s intended.

Read next: Is the reality of open banking in Canada just beyond the horizon?

“We respect data ownership – we don’t steal it, or take it for our own hidden purposes. What we do is provide technologies to different stakeholders: the brokers, the lenders, consumers and so on.

It’s also important, Di Pancrazio emphasized, to ensure that those third parties are fully and stringently vetted – and that their values and targets match those of the company.

“Making sure that there’s an alignment of strategy and thinking in terms of what we want to see is part of our vetting process – making sure that we’re partnering with the right people,” he said.

Ultimately, Di Pancrazio said that open platforms in the mortgage industry could only prove a welcome development in giving brokers more options to work with and confidence that their data was not being used without their permission.

“It comes down to having all the tools available to you to grow your business,” Di Pancrazio said. “Ultimately, you don’t want to have spokes in the wheels or anything that’s going to stymy your growth in terms of depending on the direction you want to grow.

“Having an open platform approach that brings best of breed players into your ecosystem – for us, it’s an approach that we believe gives as much flexibility for the broker to build his or her business in the way that they want to build it, and to grow it in the way that they want to grow it.”

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