CIO50 2021 #26-50: Nathan Scott, Valocity Global
Valocity Chief Technology Officer Nathan Scott says digital connectivity and agile methods have never been as critical as when deployed to support the property lending ecosystem, especially with the impacts of COVID-19.
"Disruption to core business activities, having staff dispersed across remote locations, and limited physical movement had a significant impact on the lending and valuation environment. Valocity’s ability to pivot with technical agility and support our clients across the ecosystem led to new opportunities," he says.
"While India locked down and lenders were challenged with supporting their customers with traditional, disconnected, and manual activities, Valocity was able to launch its One Smart Valuation Ordering platform. The first of its kind solution enabled business continuity for the mortgage valuation ecosystem and improved lending rather than allowing it to stop or slow down. Valocity delivers the only solution that can support this vast and complex market with the flexibility, modularity and scalability it requires," Scott says
"Our innovative solution for the Indian market included a unique software platform for Valuers to integrate seamlessly and digitally, to manage workflow and securely collect digital data onsite via mobile devices. We did not originally expect to launch this in New Zealand and Australia, but with the ongoing effects of COVID-19, we pivoted and launched this product to enable home occupants to be able to collect essential data inside the property. This meant that a valuer could complete their market valuation without entering the property, addressing health and safety concerns and ensuring business continuity," he says.
Challenges in building a platform for India
Scott states that building a digital platform for a market like India required focus on two technical pillars.
Firstly, scale and security. As the world’s second most populous nation, India is also a rapidly transforming market in both the property and lending space. All banks expect a two to five times growth year-on-year, and each bank already operates at volumes in excess of the entire New Zealand market.
Secondly, flexibility. India is the world’s largest democracy and open market economy, which leads to a great degree of flexibility in process, reliance on manual process and desire to not overly regulate. This has seen many other products in the FinTech space fail as they cannot meet the need for flexibility while empowering the benefits of digitalisation.
"Valocity focused heavily on flexibility, ensuring that the key concepts of API and mobile first were at the core of what we were building. Microservices were built to be independently scalable, secure, and deployable. This saw a significant change programme merging the best service based architecture with the rich functionality that Valocity delivers," says Scott..
The Connect Platform was built to digitally and securely connect external parties to the lender’s platform. For Valuers, this Platform allows them to receive and manage Valuation orders from a bank, allocate activities to staff, undertake site visits using specific iOS and Android applications, and manage data securely and digitally. Valocity Connect enabled valuers to deliver relevant data and valuation reports to the banks in fully flexible ways.
There were many unique challenges in India where traditional property addressing is not used. Without a unique address it is hard to direct a physical valuer to the property and difficult to connect disparate data sets together to give a coherent view of the property. To overcome this, the Valocity team spent significant effort on address journeys with geolocation technology being a key component of this effort.
Where in developed markets there is often a government registration of a property, in India the valuer may not even be sure of the type of property, level of floors etc. Hence the flexibility required to collect data while also giving standardisation and structure is significant. New data construction methods, NoSQL and markup cloud data stores were part of overcoming this challenge was as well as a fully flexible UX and machine learning modelling.
Since March 2021 the Connect platform has been rolled out to over 300 Cities across India providing a digital workflow to enable seamless valuation ordering and digital data capture
In Australasia since 2020’s Covid pandemic, the Connect digital tool has powered remote valuation inspections - from lock downs in Melbourne to digital data capture and remote valuations in Stewart Island New Zealand.
"While we have seen significant business growth, it is the impact of our platform on people’s lives that has been the most rewarding outcome. Stories of people financially impacted by COVID-19 able to get refinance options or into a home, or Valuers whose jobs have been saved is hugely fulfilling for the Valocity team," Scott says.