Leading financial services company Barbon Insurance says it has decided to integrate its recently-acquired automated referencing platform Movem into the HomeLet platform rather than operate it as a standalone referencing tool.
Barbon says the Open Banking-based referencing tech cannot, for several reasons, yet deliver the promise of instant, automated referencing for landlords and letting agents without some sort of human alternative to fall back on.
Fifteen months ago Barbon spent an undisclosed sum acquiring Movem but according to Barbon’s Marketing and E-Commerce head, Matthew Carter, it was Movem’s tech that the company was after.
“We see Open Banking data forming a part of the whole referencing process as we move forward but it will take time, even though Movem had a pretty neat solution,” he says.
“We integrated it into HomeLet rather than operating it as a standalone platform because our customers like the tenant journey and what happens during it, so the view was to ask founder Peter Ramsay and his team to integrate it into HomeLet, which is what happened last year.”
Matthew says the world of referencing isn’t ready for a standalone automated services, because Open Banking-based data, which reads a person’s bank account transactions if they give permission, still needs the ‘human touch’ to be effective and accurate.
What HomeLet has done is take the Movem’s tech and added it to the front end of its referencing service – but if the Open Banking based service can’t deliver, for whatever reason, then the traditional process takes over.
Movem’s own financial performance prior to being bought by Barbon shows how it was struggling to encourage tenants to use it. Although it raised £740,000 from investors to fund its development including £600,000 from a crowdfunding drive and £100,000 from a government grant, its most recent audited annual accounts for 2018 show that the company generated sales of just £598 and consequently made an operating loss of £176,165.
After migrating Movem to HomeLet Peter Ramsey, Movem’s founder, left the company in August last year but still works in an advisory capacity. He has subsequently started up a tech consultancy called BuiltforMars.com.
Movem was founded in 2013 and became the first proptech company in the UK to develop a fully-automated instant referencing platform based on Open Banking after claiming that the traditional reference process was ‘broken’.