With society increasingly adopting social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, several lenders have implemented changes to their home loan policies to enable remote verification of identity.
Westpac, Macquarie, NAB, ING and ME Bank have all announced changes or amendments to their home loan application process in response to growing concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
With the federal government ordering self-isolation or quarantine for those affected by COVID-19 – and encouraging social distancing among the general public – the banks have announced measures to enable brokers to conduct virtual meetings with clients, as well as undertake remote verification of identity (VOI) checks.
The major bank has announced that, as of 18 March, brokers who cannot meet their clients in-person can conduct client appointments virtually, using technology such as phone, video or teleconference.
Westpac outlined the mandatory process for virtual appointments as follows:
The bank also acknowledged that VOI remains a “key concern” for brokers and said the bank is revisiting its policies and procedures.
“In the meantime, the existing VOI policy will continue to apply, and we will update you on any changes in due course,” it said.
The major bank also announced that the global spread of COVID-19 has meant one of its strategic partners in Manila is not operational due to the Philippine government’s community quarantine measures, which is affecting some back-office home loan administration.
“We are working hard to minimise disruption to customers, including directing work to other teams, but expect there may be impacts to the application and settlement process, as well as customer wait times,” Westpac said in a business update.
As an alternative to these support services, the bank advised brokers to use the service dashboard through Broker Net for general enquiries.
Brokers with important or urgent enquiries can continue to call the Broker Support line, but the bank warned they may experience delays in the pick-up time.
While the non-major bank stipulated VOI must still be done in person, face-to-face, it has outlined that its policy offers ways of doing this remotely.
It said brokers can use the ZipID “come to you” service, which it has been using since 2015.
This would involve a ZipID representative going to the client’s home or work to meet them and sight their identification documents to meet the VOI requirements.
However, the bank said that if the client is unwell or self-quarantining, they should wait until their self-quarantine period is over before completing the ID verification process.
ZipID confirmed that it will be requesting that clients book appointments at least 14 days after potential contact if they have recently returned from overseas, are self-quarantining or have been in contact with an infected person.
The major bank has made changes to customer identity verification for new home loan applications, effective 19 March.
It said document verification service (DVS) will be available in ApplyOnline, and will replace the existing customer identity check (CIC) form.
Brokers who are completing an application in ApplyOnline will be required to complete the following steps:
The non-major lender has said it does not require accredited brokers to perform client meetings face-to-face and advised brokers to use various means, including technology solutions, to conduct client interviews.
For ID verification, the bank said it will now support the identification of clients via ZipID.
“The addition of this mobile face-to-face option is effective immediately and now available to ING accredited brokers,” the bank said.
In addition to the service, the bank said it would also support the following methods to enable clients to be identified:
“We have notified your aggregator of the addition of ZipID to the above client identification options, so please make contact with your aggregator if you have questions and would like to confirm if these align with their guidelines,” the bank said.
The non-major bank said it had seen an increase in enquiries from both brokers and aggregators about whether ME accepts brokers conducting remote and/or digital meetings, as well as clarification of its VOI policy.
With the bank expecting an increase in customer preferences to conduct home loan interviews digitally over the coming weeks, ME has announced changes to its policy to allow both the client interview by brokers and VOI of the client to be completed digitally.
“Where a broker meets with the customer(s) in person and can complete the VOI of the customer(s) in person, the Customer ID, Responsible Lending and Broker Declarations (Face-to-Face) form should be used in every instance,” the bank said in a note to brokers.
“This is form part of the ApplyOnline document pack generated on submission of the loan to ME and can also be found on our broker website.”
However, where a broker cannot meet with the client in person, they may use digital platforms to interview the client and complete the VOI.
They must follow the process below:
“If there are any doubts raised about the identity of the customer(s) either via the broker, or as a result of our internal processes, further investigations will be required,” ME Bank concluded.
[Related: Banks ‘able and willing’ to help customers]
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Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.
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