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‘It’s paramount that consumers have a world-class user experience’: How FormFree used API connections to decrease aggregation time 89 percent

  • In 2020, some FormFree users were experiencing long connection times because of multi-factor authentication pop-ups.
  • By using MX's tokenized, credential-free connections, the firm believes the improved experience translates to a 15% lift in annual revenue.
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‘It’s paramount that consumers have a world-class user experience’: How FormFree  used API connections to decrease aggregation time 89 percent

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FormFree digitally verifies assets, providing automated solutions to consumers, banks, financial institutions, credit card companies, payroll service companies and crowdfunding service providers. The company's technology also addresses risk as part of its loan application experience for borrowers. Since its founding in 2008, FormFree has helped lenders calculate, verify and quantify what consumers can afford for over $2 trillion in mortgage loans.

In 2020, some of FormFree’s users were experiencing long connection times because of multi-factor authentication pop-ups. This resulted in a high number of users who cancelled the connection, making it difficult to collect data elements critical to the loan origination process.

FormFree turned to financial data firm, MX. Using MX's tokenized, credential-free API connections, the average aggregation time for FormFree connections decreased by 89 percent to 22 seconds from an average of 3 minutes and 30 seconds. This improved experience is anticipated to translate to roughly a 15% lift in annual revenue going forward for FormFree.

Tearsheet had the opportunity to ask Brent Chandler, FormFree's founder and CEO, about the importance of the borrower's user experience.

How important is it for a home buyer to have a smooth, guided experience proving ability/willingness to pay?

Brent Chandler, FormFree: Over the last decade, online and storefront retailers have made tremendous advancements in providing consumers with an intuitive, obstacle-free shopping experience. So naturally, when consumers approach a mortgage lender to facilitate the largest and most important purchase they will ever make, they expect a quick and efficient shopping experience. 

But mortgage lending is inherently more complex and orders of magnitude more costly than ordering a latte. Before a lender can approve a loan, it must first assess a borrowers’ ability to pay the loan back. 

Ten years ago, lenders would attempt to understand a borrower’s risk profile by requiring them to fax or physically deliver asset and income documentation. Unfortunately, many mortgage lenders have been slow to evolve and still require their customers to go through the painstaking process of hunting down and delivering pay stubs, bank statements and the like. The experience is unnecessarily burdensome for borrowers and can cause them to abandon the application process or leave them feeling dissatisfied with the experience.

In fact, I founded FormFree after firsthand experiencing the stress and difficulty of the loan application process.

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What has FormFree done to overcome those hurdles/impediments?

Brent Chandler, FormFree: FormFree provides digital alternatives to the outdated process of providing paper documentation. Our products AccountChek, 3n1 and Passport give mortgage lenders a holistic picture of applicants’ financial DNA — their assets, income, employment, credit history, identity, liens and judgments, and more — and then organizes it into the format lenders need to best assess ATP. Instead of engaging in a paper chase, all consumers need to do is provide FormFree with permission to electronically verify and pass their financial data on to a lender. The verification process is simple, secure and can be completed in a matter of minutes — or even seconds, as is now the case with our AccountChek product.

How has your relationship with MX helped improve the experience?

Brent Chandler, FormFree: Since 2018, FormFree has been leveraging MX’s Data Aggregation and Data Enhancement products to help automate the verification of applicants’ identity, assets, income and employment. During this time, we’ve used MX’s tools to help close more than 1 million loans.

In 2020, when some FormFree users began experiencing connection lag times because of multi-factor authentication pop-ups, we worked with MX to upgrade several of our highest-volume financial institution connections to MX’s tokenized API connections.

Since implementing MX’s token-based authorization process, our customers aren’t disrupted by MFA triggers when enrolling or later on in the loan process, and we’ve seen a huge decrease in the time it takes to complete an aggregation event.

It’s paramount that consumers have a world-class user experience so they feel safe providing access to their most sensitive information. 

What are your expected outcomes or actual data from the collaboration? 

Brent Chandler, FormFree: MX’s API and OAuth-based solutions have led to a significant decrease in the number of MFA popups, and we’ve seen the average aggregation time for connections drop from 205 seconds to 22 seconds. Also, the completion rate for Instant Account Verification jobs has increased from 86.4% to 97.6%, and so has the average history for days returned, from 327 days to 490 days.

Where are you taking the partnership in the future?

Brent Chandler, FormFree: FormFree and MX are collaborating to make FormFree Financial DNA solutions available to MX bank and credit union clients. We are committed to working together to continually improve connection performance and, by extension, the borrower experience and breadth and quality of data supplied to creditors.

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