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Exclusive Q&A with PEXA - what is its role in the UK?

It was announced back in February this year that PEXA, the Australian FinTech/PropTech that enabled the world’s first fully digitised property settlement process, would be aiming to break into the UK property market in 2022, promising to improve transaction processes. This followed 'significant progress' in testing its platform with UK mortgage lenders and the Bank of England.

More recently, Eddie Goldsmith mentioned PEXA in a feature on these very pages, which piqued our interest about a platform that has transformed property exchange Down Under. Much like Coadjute, another major new tech kid on the block in the UK property market, not a huge amount is known about PEXA in Britain. There is every chance many won't have heard of the name before.

So, to give our readers an insight into what PEXA offers, we spoke to Heather Crichton, PEXA’s General Manager Industry Readiness, about UK expansion, e-conveyancing and industry collaboration.


Can you tell us a bit more about what PEXA is and what it does?

In 2010, PEXA began a journey that would revolutionise the way Australians (and the rest of the world) exchange property.

We set out to create less paperwork, smaller process times and less margin for error, helping to modernise the AU$7 trillion residential property market.

Today our world-first property settlement experience is trusted by more than 10,000 legal and conveyancing firms as well as financial institutions in Australia. Over AU$2 trillion of property value has safely transacted through PEXA and every week 20,000 Australians experience a speedy, safe and efficient property settlement experience.

PEXA digitises the manual processes and paperwork associated with property exchange by enabling lenders, conveyancers and others to transact together seamlessly. Our streamlined process is designed to enable fast, frictionless remortgaging while helping progressive lenders deliver better, simpler experiences.

What lessons can the UK market learn from the Australian market in terms of e-conveyancing?

Fortune favours the brave. Lenders and firms who committed early to the digital journey had the opportunity to contribute to shaping the digital conveyancing experience, giving themselves a competitive edge as they were able to adapt their processes and train their people before others.

It is important to note, the 100% adoption of PEXA’s technology and processes does not need to occur overnight. Firms often start with processing only a few transactions, and then a few more. What we have seen in Australia is a rapid adoption from there, mitigating dual processing, and to save time and energy.

We must emphasise that industry collaboration is critical – never before have we seen lenders and firms unite with the objective to uplift the entire conveyancing experience.  

What is PEXA's role in the UK market at present?

We believe our success in Australia is worth sharing and that our proven technology will advance how the UK buys and sells homes. That’s why we’re looking to work with progressive UK lenders, Land Registry and solicitors to streamline their processes, cut complexity and deliver better experiences, every time, for everyone.

Our immediate focus is on supporting the lenders and firms we are launching with, followed closely by preparing for the next wave of customers we’ll onboard, building our pipeline providers, and of course raising awareness in the industry. We’re also engaging closely with regulators (of payments, lenders, law firms, conveyancing firms) to ensure they’re aware of our market entry, as well as trade associations and government.

What are the future plans?

Transforming a very traditional sector will take time, and therefore PEXA is adopting a gradual approach to its rollout. Following the launch of our remortgage platform this year, we will concurrently continue to onboard lenders while developing the sale and purchase platform, due for release in 2024. A forever constant will be close industry collaboration, adapting and evolving our offering to best suits the needs for the sector.

Is a single, universal, national e-conveyancing solution the future for the UK market? Could it really work in practice?

The UK market is different to Australia, and we’re very much at a different point in time compared to when we were starting out.

There are a lot of FinTech/PropTech solutions in the market at the moment, and we receive regular feedback from industry that the volume and variety is overwhelming – there is an abundance of choice. However, our intention is to centralise and streamline processes, backed by the knowledge we have developed over the past decade.

What the current UK market demonstrates is an appetite for technology, and the degree to which ideas have come out of industry itself. Our focus is on bringing our solution to market, and hope that the benefits are seen as compelling by lenders and firms.

Is the UK conveyancing sector ripe for tech disruption?

The pandemic has really highlighted how important technology is to the conveyancing experience – the last couple of years have seen unprecedented transaction volumes, but also fluctuating volumes, making forecasting and planning very challenging for lenders and firms.

Overnight, we saw an increased willingness in the industry to adopt solutions like video conferencing technology, and digital signing capability. We hope the industry will use this experience to ‘bounce forward’ rather than roll back, and keep the momentum going regarding technology adoption.

In the absence of infinite recruiting (which would require infinite budget), the best (if not only) way to provide a good customer experience is to leverage technology. In today’s world, where every business is compared to Uber and Amazon, embracing technology is almost a non-negotiable.

There has been some criticism in Australia of PEXA delaying the ability of rivals to integrate with technology (known as interoperability) - do you have any response to this?

Legislation has recently passed in Australia to enable competition within e-conveyancing via interoperability.  Although operators have been able to compete head-to-head since the establishment of e-conveyancing more than a decade ago, interoperability is viewed as a way for Electronic Lodgement Network Operators (ELNOs) to communicate within the same environment on the same transaction.

PEXA has long supported the introduction of greater competition in e-conveyancing and is contributing significant resources (more than 1000 personnel hours in 2021 alone) to design and implement interoperability. PEXA is focused on continuing to deliver positive industry and consumer outcomes, and is excited to share our knowledge and expertise with the UK market.

Would PEXA be keen to collaborate with the likes of Coadjute and other e-conveyancing firms to drive forward change in the UK property market?

While we cannot share any immediate plans, industry collaboration is at the heart of what we do, and we have a track record of this in Australia where it makes sense to do so.

What do you make of the recent changes introduced by Trading Standards regarding upfront information - will this improve the sector? 

PEXA supports positive developments that assist in improving the customer experience when it comes to conveyancing.

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    David Jabbari, CEO of Muve. I am sure that all forward-thinking law firms will be keen to embrace any technology that can be proven to simplify and speed up key aspects of the conveyancing process, such as settlement and registration. PEXA's track record in Australia speaks for itself.


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