The three-pin plug approach

The mortgage, property and advice industries need a ‘three-pin plug’ approach to make the consumer experience seamless.

If we applied the three-pin plug approach to the problem of every sector doing their own digital thing in their own way, we would have found a way to address the barriers to interoperability. This means, we could agree on data and standards collaboratively.  


If we take this a step further and apply that same thinking and methodology to the whole of the property data we need throughout a property and mortgage transaction, exactly the same principles apply.  

These aren’t new concepts or particularly ground-breaking, but they take collective and collaborative effort to deliver and need a range of solutions: 


Common Data Standards: Developing and adopting common data standards is crucial for interoperability. Industry stakeholders are collaborating to define standardised formats, structures, and protocols for property data. These standards address key data elements, data models, and data exchange mechanisms to ensure seamless integration and compatibility across different software platforms. 

Open APIs: Open application programming interfaces (APIs) enable systems and applications to communicate and share data in a universal way. Publishing these for every data source provider and software platform while making it easy to use open standard API formats allows different software platforms and solutions to integrate and exchange data seamlessly. 

Data Sharing Agreements: These agreements should define data ownership, usage rights, data quality standards, and privacy safeguards. Clear guidelines and frameworks for sharing and accessing data deliver confidence and encourage collaboration. 

Data Integration and Connectivity Solutions: Robust data integration, infrastructure networks, and connectivity solutions can bridge the gap between disparate systems and facilitate interoperability regardless of the software you use. These solutions enable data harmonisation, transformation, and seamless data exchange between different platforms and databases and can help resolve the one to many connectivity conundrum that has made our API adoption largely ineffective so far. 

Open Data Formats: Encouraging the use of open and non-proprietary data formats promotes interoperability. Globally common formats and coding languages such as JSON or XML enable easier data exchange and reduce dependencies on specific software or systems. It also enables us to attach provenance to data so we know where it came from and how trustable it is. 


Data Governance and Quality: Establishing data quality standards, validation processes, and data stewardship roles helps maintain data integrity and security. Developing robust privacy and security frameworks is crucial to foster trust and encourage data sharing. Implementing encryption, access controls, anonymisation techniques, and evidencing compliance with relevant data protection regulations keeps us and our customers safe. 


How does this help mortgage lending and intermediaries?

There aren’t many things more complicated to buy than a house.

The process can be overwhelming with so many parties involved, huge amounts of information to gather and understand, a whole dictionary of acronyms and terms to navigate, and so many things that can and often do go wrong. As a customer or one of the firms involved in getting a transaction through, a huge amount of our probability of success comes down to preparation, relationships, doing your bit of the transaction well, persistence, and the sheer will to get it done.  

Our entire industry relies on documents, case tracking, frequent contact up and down the value chain, and all with very little transparency, homogeneity, or trust baked in.  

When you see all of the forms, paperwork, research, enquiries, interpretation and rekeying that happens across the whole transaction, it’s a miracle that we ever get anyone moved into their new home. When you then work out the sequencing of all that information and the myriad of formats that it arrives in, it’s no wonder we’ve created whole processes and cottage industries to prevent things from going wrong and to manage a very disconnected industry and customer experience.  

As lenders and intermediaries, we’ve done a brilliant job working around these challenges and finding ways to make the process function but thinking about how we could fix our problems as part of an open ecosystem solution highlights some of the key areas that we’ve long struggled with. 

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