BMO Offering Fully Remote Refinancing

BMO Financial Group announced it has partnered with Blend Labs and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago to allow eligible U.S. customers to refinance completely online, leading to a faster and more secure lending experience.

So long as the customer’s property is in a state and county that allows the recording of e-signatures and digital notaries, there is no longer any in-person requirement for refinancing.  

“Through our membership with FHLBank Chicago and partnership with Blend, we have created an end-to-end digital experience that empowers customers with expediency and control, while offering access to lending experts throughout the process,” said Mark Shulman, Head of U.S. Consumer Lending at BMO.

Blend Lab’s Close product drives the bank’s shift to digital refis. It gives borrowers the ability to review and sign closing documents remotely, gives online notarization eligibility info at the time of application, and keeps them in one portal for the entire experience.

“We are delighted to expand our partnership with BMO through this digital-transformation initiative,” said Erik Wrobel, Head of Product at Blend.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with them as they evolve their digital offerings to provide customers a mortgage experience that is unparalleled in speed, convenience, and control.”

The bank says it is the first financial institution to complete the transfer and pledge of eNotes to FHLBank Chicago’s DocMagic eVault and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) eDeliver system.

This update comes as part of BMO’s “Digital First” strategy, aimed at creating a more convenient customer experience.

The update caters to the new majority of borrowers who want to move their lending experience completely online. Only about 25% of U.S. borrowers used BMO’s remote online notarization (RON) capabilities prior to the pandemic. Now, 75% utilize it.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Technology Engagement Center released a report last year touting the benefits of digitizing certain government processes. It specifically name-dropped RON as a boon to Americans.

“As we deliberate the post-pandemic world, policymakers should fully embrace RON. Its convenience, added security, efficiency, and resilience provide major advantages to businesses, governments, and the American public,” the report reads.

But mortgage lenders have been wary of online services when closing loans. A survey of 100 lenders found that only 47% of participants used tech such as eSignatures and RON when closing a loan.