Standards forum will be set up soon

Trade bodies, lenders and distributors will be meeting soon to discuss ways a standards forum can be established to drive the uptake of e-commerce in the industry, says Frank Eve

I outlined my role with Origo some time ago. It engaged me to canvass opinion among mortgage lenders, brokers and IT companies to find out if there was an appetite for an Origo-based standards forum similar to the one that it provides to the life and pensions industry.

Origo is a non-profit standards organisation, it does not provide software or intend to be a trading platform. Its role would be that of a facilitator to bring together all stakeholders in the industry to provide a common way of transacting business which would make life easier for the intermediaries who have to access many different technologies to provide services to their clients.

I am continuing to consult with the industry and Origo has been encouraged by the progress I have made to date, with both lenders and brokers. Support is evident from the intermediary sector where large distributors such as Legal & General and Premier Mortgage Service have given their support to the development of standards in the industry.

The benefits of a standards-based e-commerce environment would be felt by all intermediaries and the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has been at the forefront of the drive to develop a standards-based forum. Origo standards would increase the efficiency of systems across the industry and would also provide a forum where e-commerce priorities could be set by the whole mortgage community. This would give direction to the IT solution providers and drive down cost through a ‘build once, use often’ philosophy.

Meetings have taken place with a number of lenders to discuss the formation of an Origo-based standards forum. The debate has moved on from discussing if a standards forum is required in the industry to how a forum can be established.

Of course there are a number of commercial sensitivities that must be overcome, including harnessing lenders’ investments in existing capabilities, but this must be done from the perspective of satisfying intermediary needs.

Origo has arranged a meeting to bring together a number of the major mortgage lenders to discuss ways a standards forum can be established and to identify early priorities. This will be followed by meetings with specialist lenders, the building society movement and the larger mortgage distributors and technology companies. The initiative is gaining support from all sectors. The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association has been consulted many times and has also given its support.

Origo intends to bring all these stakeholders together to debate priorities and timescales leading to the formation of a standards forum early in 2006. This is an exciting project that could change the way the industry develops and help all sectors of the market grasp the benefits that e-commerce should bring. I will continue to keep you informed of progress.