RON expansion leads to 400% growth in 90 days: Notarize

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Since the pandemic began, remote online notarization has helped to bridge the social distancing gap, allowing deals to close without in-person contact, and thereby helping to maintain business continuity.

Making RON a legally acceptable form of documentation went from an issue on the periphery to the law of the land in 28 states as of July 8, with more expected to pass their own regulations in the coming weeks and months.

With this increased RON implementation, Notarize, a Boston-based provider of electronic notary services, said it had a 400% spike in overall revenue during the second quarter.

"Year-over-year, it's more like 1000%. It's bananas," Pat Kinsel, CEO of Notarize, said in an interview. The company has added a host of new clients to their roster in the past few weeks, Kinsel said. "We work with two of the top 10 lenders in the country, United Wholesale Mortgage and Guaranteed Rate, other clients that are public like Redfin, Stewart Title, Realogy and others."

Kinsel predicts business will continue to grow.

"A lot of these accounts are doubling with us every month now. I don't see the growth rates slowing at all over the next six months. If we initially had more notaries, we would have grown even more than that," he said. "We've onboarded about a thousand notaries to the platform in that time period."

On July 7, MISMO announced that Notarize — along with eNotaryLog — became the first companies to complete the new RON certification program. Meeting the set of requirements include analyzing credentials, borrower identification, maintaining an audio and video recording of the notarization, record storage and audit trails. MISMO launched the certification program as a means of encouraging more RON adoption and as a way to ensure that those doing e-closings meet the MISMO Remote Online Notary Standards.

Industry proponents who have long sought to get lenders onboard with such technologies are quick to point out how helpful it has been for its early adopters.

"Real estate transactions continue to close during the COVID-19 pandemic because of advancements in digital mortgage technology, including the increased adoption of remote online notarization as a safe and convenient option," Mike Fratantoni, president of MISMO and Mortgage Bankers Association chief economist and senior vice president of research and industry technology, said in a press release.

At the federal level, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., introduced the SECURE Notarization Act in March as a bipartisan bill. In addition to Notarize, it's backed by the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors and American Land Title Association, among many others.

"The SECURE Notarization Act brings the notary process into the 21st century, allowing people to securely complete documents while still following recommended health and social practices amid the coronavirus pandemic," Cramer said in a press release at the time the bill was first introduced.

While state-to-state specifications would remain an issue, a federal RON law would only require running one notarization process.

"It's not going to eliminate differences state by state, there's always going to be complexity in how to properly do a RON transaction," Kinsel said. "What it will clarify is as long as those state's rules meet a minimum threshold, they will be accepted nationally for all use cases."

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