Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Desktop Video Conferencing

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Desktop Video Conferencing

Article excerpt

Today, a small number of lenders are incorporating desktop video conferencing (DVC) into their origination technology architecture. Usually combined with sales automation tools such as prequalifiers and application-taking software, as well as links to automated underwriting tools, DVC links the parties to the transaction. This is done in one of two ways: standalone (kiosk) mode where the borrower interacts with a sales representative, and assisted mode where the borrower and a Realtor or loan officer converse, usually with an underwriter, at a home office or a regional processing center.

The prices for this kind of technology are dropping rapidly. Most important, specialized facilities are no longer necessary, since a simple desktop PC with a video camera and specialized software can provide DVC capabilities. Indeed, the Internet is full of sites offering live video-conferencing, although most of them for less-than-edifying purposes.

A popular application in educational settings is CU-SeeMe software that, when combined with the Internet and a $200 camera, allows virtual visits. The quality of the transmission is mediocre, but no worse than specialized systems costing upwards of $50,000 just a couple of years ago.

Apart from quality, the biggest problem with videoconferencing has always been the artificial nature of the communications. Rather than communicate from our normal work space, we have to go to a special facility for a formal meeting. In the very old days, this meant trooping across town to a telephone company location, with one roomful of people talking to another roomful with all the dynamism and cooperative spirit of the U.N. general assembly.

Then we installed video in corporate conference rooms, but the logistics of these meetings and the cost meant they were usually reserved for policy-setting or highly serious topics. The interchange was usually stilted because only one person could speak at a time and the images were not good enough to read the subtle gestures and expressions that we humans need for full communication. No wonder videoconferencing, which was to help slash corporate travel budgets, made no real impact on business communications.

We are now at a point where the quality problem is being solved by means of a powerful and inexpensive combination of hardware/software and networks. The artificiality problem is eliminated when we put videoconferencing at the desktop, so that it is now just as easy to initiate a video call as a telephone call. Calls can involve fewer people, deal with less portentous matters and be focused on real problem solving. We can hold up objects for perusal, even quickly sketching a diagram and sharing it with the group.

In other words, we can now consider DVC not just a technology for point-of-sale, but also as a means for improving communications within the company. It can link headquarters with regional and local offices, support telecommuting by employees or provide frequent contact between a mortgage company and key suppliers (e.g., an appraisal management company on the origination side or an office of foreclosure attorneys on the servicing side).

DVC requires technology that costs more than a normal PC but certainly less than a specialized setup. Bandwidth is the most critical design element. New compression technology allows use of the conventional analog network, also called POTS (plain old telephone service). …

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