IThink Financial, the eighth credit union to sign up for Empower since December, will use the mortgage loan origination system to provide home loans to more than 100,000 members.

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Black Knight has signed up yet another credit union, Florida-based iThink Financial, to use its Empower mortgage loan origination system to provide home loans to the credit union’s more than 100,000 members.

It’s the latest in a string of deals Black Knight has signed with credit unions, banks and smaller mortgage lenders, who are moving to modernize their operations to cut costs and better compete for homebuyers in a rising interest rate environment.

Since December, Black Knight has announced deals with eight credit unions who will use Empower to serve more than 1.5 million members. The mortgage tech provider has announced seven other Empower deals this year with banks and other mortgage lenders.

Delray Beach-based iThink Financial operates 22 branches in Florida and Georgia, offering a broad set of home loans including first and second mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), reverse mortgages and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

The credit union specifically chose Empower for its scalability and to help automate manual processes, the companies said in announcing the deal Tuesday.

Mark Skinner

“iThink Financial is growing every year as we attract more and more members, and we needed a loan origination system that will not only support our growth, but will scale as we do,” said Chief Lending Officer Mark Skinner, in a statement. Empower “will automate many of the tedious processes our loan officers would otherwise do manually, and now our members will have the tools to complete a mortgage application online that automatically alerts the loan officer and processor in one smooth, seamless process.”

Black Knight says Empower provides “lights-out processing” to automate repetitive tasks based on each lender’s configurations, without the need for human intervention.

As has been the case with several other Black Knight deals with credit unions, iThink Financial will also use additional Black Knight solutions including:

  • Machine-learning technology for document classification and indexing
  • Mortgage product and pricing engine from Optimal Blue
  • A digital point-of-sale solution to streamline the mortgage application process
  • A digital close solution with eDelivery and eSigning capabilities
  • A regulatory compliance solution
  • A comprehensive fee service to help mitigate fee cures
  • Professional flood zone determinations
  • An advanced business intelligence solution
  • Web-based technology providing access to thousands of service providers directly within the Empower system

Technology as a competitive edge

With rising rates putting a dent in their lucrative refinancing business, the nation’s biggest mortgage lenders, Rocket Mortgage and United Wholesale Mortgage, are aggressively competing for homebuyers by implementing technology to cut costs and provide better service to borrowers.

Through a partnership with Salesforce, Rocket Mortgage is making its mortgage origination technology available as an end-to-end “mortgage-as-a-service” to any lender with licensed mortgage loan officers through Salesforce Financial Services Cloud.

Banks and credit unions can also “launch, replace, or augment” their lineup of home loans by integrating Rocket Mortgage’s digital mortgage application inside an online banking platform developed by Q2 Holdings Inc.

On Aug. 5, Rocket Mortgage announced an exclusive deal with Santander Bank, which is now directing its nearly 2 million customers to Rocket if they’re looking for a mortgage.

Black Knight touts Empower as a tool that even smaller mortgage lenders can adopt to stay competitive as it’s suitable for companies originating as few as 100 loans per month to over 1,000, “making it an ideal solution for lenders of all sizes that want a best-in-class loan origination system.”

A competitor, Denver-based mortgage technology provider Maxwell, is also targeting small to midsize lenders, promising it can help their loan officers to close 15 percent more loans each month and spend more time counseling borrowers and strengthening their network instead of performing administrative tasks.

Maxwell has been an integrated point-of-sale partner with Ice Mortgage Technology’s Encompass LOS (loan origination system) since 2019 and in March announced integration with the Encompass eClose solution.

Ice Mortgage Technology’s parent company, Intercontinental Exchange Inc., is pursuing a $13.1 billion deal to acquire Black Knight if antitrust regulators don’t object.

Black Knight’s run of credit union deals

Black Knight’s run of deals with credit unions kicked off in December when the company announced a deal with the largest credit union in Northeast Florida, VyStar, which boasts 829,000 members, according to the National Credit Union Administration.

So far this year Black Knight has announced deals with seven additional credit unions with 715,000 members as Empower clients including:

Black Knight has also announced seven other Empower deals this year with banks and other mortgage lenders including:

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Email Matt Carter

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