Brian Ewing, head of intermediary sales, Intelligent Finance This summer's internet traffic statistics published by Hitwise show that UK banking sites recorded a 65% increase in online visits over the previous year, with users aged between 25 and 44 being most active in managing their finances online.
To examine the success of lending over the internet we need to clearly define two differing attitudes to lending. Personal loans and credit cards are popular on the web. It is easy to apply, you can get a decision in principle whilst still online, you can apply when it suits you and it's quick.
Historically, a mortgage has been a different story. The value is higher than a personal loan, there is a much longer term of repayment, and it relates to the applicant's home and, as it says in all the paperwork, 'your home is at risk if you do not keep up repayments'. Additionally, although the application process is made as simple as possible the information required in terms of property value, mortgage size, income, etc. can be daunting.
But our experience is that this perception is changing. We have consistently seen the percentage of web applications compared with telephone applications rising. In March 2001, we launched our broker website and saw excellent take-up. By its second anniversary, we'd seen nearly 35,000 mortgage applications being placed online, amounting to over £3.5bn.
But the success of the internet shouldn't be measured only in terms of applications placed. Clearly a healthy flow of business is necessary to help fund the site but we regard ours as a tool to help brokers do their job. Our website offers tools to help market offset products, place business, track business and provide up to date information.
What of the future? It's already clear that the internet appeals to younger consumers. With computing skills now being taught in primary schools we can safely anticipate that tomorrow's consumers will have a better grasp of the internet than we do.
Mortgage lending on the internet hasn't peaked yet and, at Intelligent Finance, we can only see the statistics rising.