MERS, NYSE owner Intercontinental Exchange increases mortgage presence by buying Simplifile

Completes $335 million purchase of electronic document platform

Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, moved into mortgages in a big way last year when the company bought MERS, which operates a national electronic registry that tracks the changes in servicing rights and beneficial ownership interests in U.S.-based mortgages.

And now, ICE is increasing its presence in the mortgage business.

ICE announced Wednesday that it has acquired Simplifile, which acts as an electronic liaison between lenders, settlement agents, and county recording offices, for $335 million.

Simplifile was founded in 2000 in order to digitize the closing process of the real estate industry. Simplifile’s network now includes nearly 2,000 counties, which use the company’s programs to electronically record deeds, mortgages, liens, releases, and other documents online.

And now, the company will be part of ICE, just like MERS.

ICE first made an entry into mortgages two years ago, when it first acquired a stake in MERSCORP, the owner of Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems and operator of the MERS System.

Then last year, ICE bought the remaining pieces of MERS and folded into the ICE Mortgage Services portfolio.

That segment of the business will now include Simplifile as well.

Chris McEntee, the president of ICE Mortgage Services, said that the company made the move to capitalize on the mortgage business’ ongoing evolution from paper-based transactions towards digital ones.

“Simplifile’s connectivity to nearly 2,000 public recording entities, representing over 80% of the U.S. population, is a key part of the infrastructure needed to further drive digital transformation in the mortgage market,” McEntee said.

“The Simplifile team brings tremendous industry expertise to ICE and we will work together to help those involved in the mortgage value chain – including borrowers, originators, investors and servicers – benefit from more transparency and efficiency in what’s been a very analog system,” McEntee added.

Simplifile is also a 2019 HW Tech100 winner as one of the top technology companies in the housing industry.

“ICE’s track record of bringing innovation and efficiency to markets will be a valuable asset as we continue to work with recorders, title and settlement agents, and lenders to build a slate of products that make it simpler to record mortgage documents,” Paul Clifford, founder and president of Simplifile, said.

The acquisition was initially announced last month, but the deal has now closed.

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