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With margins thinning and competition intensifying, lenders attending the 2018 Mortgage Bankers Association Technology Conference in Detroit were most interested in automation that could help them address those issues.

Point of sale systems that aim to provide better experience for borrowers were a hot topic at the show, which the MBA held in the hometown of the best-known digital platform in the business, Quicken Loans' Rocket Mortgage. Several Quicken executives were on hand to discuss strategies in this area and give attendees tours of the city, and Chairman Dan Gilbert recounted how he built his company at the meeting.

In line with discussions about how to not only provide a strong customer experience but also create a more efficient mortgage process was a lot of buzz around the use of electronic notarization, e-notes, blockchains and data-based electronic verifications of borrower information.

Governmental hurdles to creating more efficient, digital mortgages also were on the minds of attendees at the residential and commercial mortgage meeting, which was led by MBA Vice Chairman and CBRE executive Brian Stoffers in lieu departing CEO David Stevens. The group, which laid out the changes it is lobbying for to address those concerns, hopes to name Stevens' successor soon.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac representatives also attended the meeting and shared tips and information about their latest required technology implementations, including the Uniform Residential Loan Application and the Uniform Closing Dataset.

Cyber security was another theme at the conference, where speakers shared lessons learned from recent breaches and incidents involving wire fraud.
Technology spending
Point of sale system 'co-opetition'
Publicly traded mortgage technology firms seeking growth as originations fall could eventually end up squaring off against or buying privately owned point of sale system startups, according to one analyst.

Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president and publicly traded loan origination system provider Ellie Mae, considers it more of a "co-opetition." Ellie Mae allows users to work with the POS system of their choice, but the company also is testing one it plans to roll out broadly to users of its Encompass technology for no additional charge this summer.
Detroit MSA
While the West Coast still reigns as the epicenter of technology development, the Detroit area has quietly emerged as a proving ground for digital mortgage innovations.
Brian Stoffers
Ginnie Mae, states, the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies need to make changes for digital mortgages to move forward, Vice Chairman Brian Stoffers told attendees.
Brendon Weiss
There is increased availability of technologies that can help small and midsized lenders adopt electronic notes, such as the new automation Merscorp Holdings and eOriginal are offering, according to Merscorp Chief Operating Officer Brendon Weiss.
Mortgage application methods
Mortgages shouldn't purely be digital
Striking the right balance between providing a digital mortgage and meeting borrowers' needs means providing the right mix of standardization and communication.

"It's very rare the customer wants to go end to end and not talk to someone," said MaryAnn Schummer, chief product officer and interim chief information offer at Flagstar Bank.
Faster mortgage closings could boost fraud
Wire fraud is spreading
Cybersecurity incidents involving fraudulent diversions of wired funds are growing, according to John-Thomas Gaietto, executive director of Cybersecurity Services at Richey May & Co. Borrowers wiring funds for down payments at closing are a common target, but there are other types of wire fraud as well.
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Alexa can help servicers
Quicken Loans is finding consumers like to use voice commands to pay their loans, according to Regis Hadiaris, Rocket Mortgage's product lead.

"Our clients are on Alexa and they want that kind of thing," he said.
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Hard deadline for UCD
Right now lenders get a warning if they don't fulfill Uniform Closing Dataset requirements when selling a loan to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, but they can still deliver the mortgage. That will change starting June 25, when loans that fail to meet UCD requirements will become undeliverable, representatives of both agencies reminded conference attendees.
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