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MBA Annual Alert: Quicken, loanDepot leaders see fintech barrier to Amazon buy-in

Anthony Hsieh and Bill Emerson say mortgage space still has too much friction

The advance of fintech could be the last barrier between Amazon and the mortgage industry.

While speaking at the Mortgage Bankers Association annual convention on Tuesday, Quicken Loans Vice Chairman Bill Emerson and loanDepot Chairman and CEO Anthony Hsieh joked about which of their companies Amazon or some other digital giant would snap up first to break into the mortgage space.

Although plans have leaked — HousingWire first reported Amazon was interviewing potential heads of its newly formed mortgage division — Hsieh and Emerson say it’s probably not time for the big buy-in just yet.

“Right now, our industry is too chaotic for companies such as [Amazon, Google etc.] to enter,” Hsieh said before a packed house at the conference.

"But I think with this digital journey, customer journey, continuing to mature and big data, AI, robotics and engineering is going to cut out much of the friction in our process. As that friction gets to a certain standard, it’s going to be a lot more attractive. Real estate and mortgage is a massive market, and it’s something that they have to look at,” he added.

Emerson told the audience there is no telling what companies on the level of Google or Amazon want, and that there is a good chance the regulatory environment, one of the friction purveyors, is probably keeping them at bay.

“The regulatory environment in our space is something that people don’t want to wade into lightly, because it does have an effect on other things that you do, depending upon how you decide to structure that,” Emerson said.

“But I don’t think anybody in this room should sit back and say, ‘Nah, they won’t do that,’ because we’ve just watched, especially Amazon, disintermediate business model after business model after business model,” he added.

Elsewhere at the conference, Tim Mayopoulos spent a good part of his literal last day as CEO of Fannie Mae looking back at his nearly 10-year tenure at Fannie Mae and looking ahead to the future.

“We’re facing some tough market conditions right now, but the companies that are going survive and thrive are the ones who can deal with that and move forward in the technological advancements in the industry,” Mayopoulos said. “Look to Amazon and Google for what people want now and in the future.”

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