This article is sponsored by ReverseVision. In this Voices interview, RMD sits down with Jim Magner, ReverseVision Chief Technology Officer to get his take on the current state of reverse mortgage technology, how ReverseVision is approaching market expansion by bringing reverse mortgage origination capabilities well beyond the current industry players, and how a varied background in other industries gives him perspective on where reverse mortgage tech needs to change.
Reverse Mortgage Daily: Your career path has been very diverse. What was your career path before joining ReverseVision and the reverse mortgage industry?
Jim Magner: I’ve been a technologist since the 80s. In the early period, I worked on database and software utilities for companies like Ashton-Tate, and Peter Norton Symantec back in the 80s and early 90s. After relocating to Las Vegas in the mid 90s,I began working for the Mirage Resorts group (which is MGM Mirage in today’s world), customizing the gaming and hospitality platforms for the Bellagio [Las Vegas] opening.
In 2004, I became a gaming entrepreneur and was first in the state of Nevada to get a play-by-play sports wagering system approved; after a field trial in the Palms Resort. I was also first in the state of Nevada to get a mobile wagering system approved in the Palms Resort based upon the initial play-by-play system we developed.
We secured ruggedized tablets using location technology so it was possible to wander around and use the devices in casino gaming areas, but the minute a device left a gaming area, it would log the user out. Nevada Gaming Control Board regulators really appreciated the efforts we took to ensure that we followed their guidelines, and after becoming acquainted during a special test night at the Palms; they gave it approval.
I relocated to San Diego in 2011, and went to work for Mitek Systems leading the engineering team for their mobile deposit product line. I worked on the mobile capture system and led a team of folks that built a smartphone and tablet device video capture system that would examine the frames of a check, choosing the best frame to pick off Check 21 compliance-related print and handwriting on a check in order to ensure the resulting image would result in an approved deposit.
I also kicked off a new identity product that was first used to ease account opening through a mobile device. For example, you could open up an account by taking a picture of significant IDs, like a driver’s license and a passport or whatever, and then automatically extract the information from those documents to fill in data necessary to apply for loan or credit card applications.
What was it about ReverseVision that helped you to realize you could take your vast experiences and bring them to this specific industry?
Well, I can appreciate a good set of challenges, particularly when they include new adventures in the technical realm. All of this and more seemed to be available for me here at ReverseVision. Of course, I had the questions many of us have entering the reverse mortgage space. For example, are they legit? Why do you hear so many negative things about them?
I was invited to talk to [CEO] John Button where I was able to ask the many questions I had about Reverse Mortgages. He enlightened me on the reverse mortgage industry, where it has been, where it is going today, and described the untapped potential given the size of the baby boomer demographic.
Considering your history in the gaming industry, with all of its regulation and compliance, how would you say you help ReverseVision to navigate the complex landscape it operates in?
Certainly, my previous experience in compliance has been helpful. However, in the mortgage industry, I think there’s more potentially exposable NPII than any other business domain for which I’ve worked. To respond, I spend a substantial amount of my time in review of our data security solutions to try to stay ahead of the ever-changing threat landscape and to ensure our approach, tools and processes are as up-to-date as possible. We have new opportunities ahead securing our cloud assets and new API Platform.
In terms of your efforts at ReverseVision, what path do you see for reverse mortgages to potentially start moving forward in a digital mortgage direction akin to what’s happened in the forward world?
One of my primary missions at ReverseVision and speaking of the API platform, [is proving our] thesis on how we can expand our marketplace by getting reverses out into the forward marketplace. First, this means providing the tools, materials, and APIs that help educate the forward world on how a reverse mortgage could play in the right demographic very competitively with other loan products, which simply put, isn’t the way things work today.
Reverses are pretty much a mono-line business since the large lenders that focus on reverse either are focused solely on reverse or they have separate divisions that do it. We are finding ways to create tools that will, first of all, get it in front of the lenders in the forward world and help educate them on how to present a reverse mortgage in combination with the other products that might be accessible for that demographic.
Secondly, as we move forward in the digital world, we need to provide enough educational resources and tools that an end-user can start to play with it as a financial product and investigate things even without the help from a lender, but using some of the modern integrations and platforms that are available in the mortgage world.
At ReverseVision, I spend a lot of my time seeking out individuals from potential partners and describing our thoughts around where we’re trying to go. It’s been a long haul, but in the last year and a half, I have gotten a lot of exciting responses and I’ve been very deep in conversations about integrations.
In terms of lenders, do you think that the digital reverse mortgage experience is something that they are sufficiently exploring or should they be thinking more intently about how to forge that experience on their end? Would that make your job a little easier?
I think the reverse lenders are definitely thinking about how to expand their market by providing relevant tools to provide some initial end-user digital experience but the forward market really hasn’t spent a whole lot of time on it. I think that we’re doing as much as we can in terms of trying to solve the problems with education for the age demographic and visibility and comparisons.
One of the huge things that I hope to explore more is the financial advisor market and creating tools that cross the boundaries outside of lending maybe, and start there first, as a different way to work with the product.
What kind of competitive advantage do you think your experience helps to bring to ReverseVision?
When I joined ReverseVision, the future project at hand, as I understood it was, we had this aging monolithic platform and we were trying to find a way to bring it up to speed and put a web front end on it. First of all, that’s a hard sell to a board of directors because no one wants to know that they have to spend millions of dollars to redesign their systems so people can use it effectively in order to replatform. That’s not an effective use of money, per se, even though your competitors may already be working on something like that.
What I could bring to ReverseVision that would help us be more competitive is [an approach to our APIs].
API stands for application programming interface. Basically, it is a service that could be consumed by a systems integrator, most likely a vendor platform or a sophisticated customer that has their own developers. They would write the consumption methods that would take the data and interchange data and use it in their applications and it would communicate directly back with our API platform and potentially our application as well.
APIs are generally what you would deliver to tech partners and to the more sophisticated customers that would be trying to integrate your system into a forward lending system so they can refine their operations. I bring the background of having done that from scratch with new technology and that’s where we’re headed right now.
Can you tell me about the things that are taking up most of your time these days at ReverseVision?
Well, a quick history. When I joined the company we had had the best year we ever had and then a bunch of compliance objectives hit us in October of 2017. We spent a large part of 2018 reacting to that by developing a way of managing private mortgages.
Also in the background since, we put together a proof of concept around the APIs where we basically came up with two lone API products. One of them would allow you to create a loan from another application. Then there was another loan product that we worked with to allow companies like FAR and RMF to integrate the loan data into their core system that they use as a system of record.
Then since the proof of concepts went over well, and we generated a lot of interest at shows and with the partners that we’re working with, we were funded this year to begin work on a new API platform 2.0, which has a whole series of APIs for this year that will basically allow us to fully integrate with a forward lending platform from the very beginning of comparing mortgages and creating prospects and moving that along into loan creation and facilitating the whole origination process to closing.
Then there would also be a front-end component, if you will, that could be pulled directly into someone else’s application and white label. That’s the first delivery. The second delivery is a full loan API product that covers every field available in a reverse mortgage loan. [This will allow users to] create, originate, and close loans in someone else’s system using ReverseVision services.
Where do you see the reverse world going from here?
At the end of the day, the theory about opening up reverse to forward is exciting, and there’s a lot to it. We’ve been working with few partners that can help create a platform for us with a few integrations that I think will make that easier for lenders to see and to experiment with and expand our marketplace.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
ReverseVision is the leading reverse mortgage technology company with a suite of products designed to enable a seamless lender and consumer experience for mortgages and equity release programs designed specifically for homeowners age 60+. To learn more about ReverseVision’s products and services, visit https://www.reversevision.com/all-rv-products/.
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