Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s federal regulator will host Velocity TechSprint, a problem-solving challenge for product developers and data scientists in nation’s capital July 10-13.

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Mortgage technology and finance experts will gather in Washington, D.C. this summer for a problem-solving “TechSprint” hosted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s federal regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

For three days beginning July 10 product developers, data scientists, fintech domain experts, consumer advocates and academics will brainstorm ways to make the mortgage process smoother, faster and more inclusive, the FHFA said this week in announcing the first ever Velocity TechSprint challenge.

Sandra Thompson

“Over the past decade, mortgage origination costs have doubled, while delivery times have remained largely unchanged,” said FHFA Director Sandra Thompson in a statement. “When used responsibly, technology has the potential to improve borrowers’ experiences by reducing barriers, increasing efficiencies, and lowering costs.”

The event will culminate in a July 13 Demo Day where each team will present their ideas to a panel of judges drawn from subject matter experts in industry, the nonprofit sector and government.

There are no cash prizes, and the rules require participants to grant the federal government “a worldwide, non-exclusive, sublicensable, transferable, fully paid-up, royalty free, perpetual, irrevocable and unlimited right” to use whatever software or other ideas they come up with during the contest.

But given that the ideas participants dream up could help speed transformation of the mortgage industry, the FHFA is expecting to attract a deep pool of talent.

Applications to participate in the FHFA Velocity TechSprint are due May 31, and no more than two people from the same company or organization will be placed on the same team. The teams will need domain experts, product designers, back- and front-end developers as well as presenters and team leaders.

Teams will be recognized with awards in four categories:

  • Fast: Quickest to market
  • Jump: Most potentially transformational
  • Eureka: Most exciting or surprising due to creativity
  • Audience Favorite: Receiving most votes from the in-person and virtual audience

The event will be hosted by the FHFA’s Office​ of Financial Technology, which launched last summer to serve as a centralized information clearinghouse and resource on mortgage-related innovations, general trends, and emerging risks in the use of fintech.

Last fall the Fintech Office hosted a virtual public listening session to get public input on the role of technology in housing finance, and also put out a request for information that drew responses from a range of industry and consumer groups, as well as lenders and software vendors.

“We think there is tremendous potential for technology to solve some of the most pressing issues in the current market, including affordability, availability of financing, more consumer-friendly experiences, a better-informed borrower, and bringing about broader racial equity,” the National Association of Realtors said in its response. “The credit and lending communities and federal regulators should reassess the entire credit structure and look for ways to increase the availability of credit to qualified borrowers who are good credit risks. We believe technology has a major role to play here.”

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Email Matt Carter

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