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Mobile or Bust

If you’re a mortgage marketer or originator and you’re considering where to invest your IT dollars, ponder these stats for a moment:

  • 24+ million Canadians have mobile phones
  • 4 out of 5 have smartphones
  • 88% of a typical smartphone user’s time is spent using apps
  • 89% of homebuyers use a mobile device during their home search

Around the world, more people are now searching and shopping on mobile devices than on desktop and laptop computers.

This is eye-catching data and it makes one thing crystal clear: if you’re not visible to mobile Internet users, you’re neglecting a colossal slice of the market.

But if you’re going to embark on developing a mortgage app, there’s plenty to bear in mind. We spoke with Ben Salami recently to get a professional’s take on mobile mortgage technology. Salami is founder of Bendigi Technologies, a Toronto-based firm that builds mortgage apps. He has the #1-ranked mortgage app in Canada ( and knows this game as well as anyone.

He reeled off six fundamental considerations when building a mortgage app:

  • Make it comprehensive
    • The “minimum features” mortgage shoppers expect in an app are a mortgage calculator, mortgage default insurance calculator and minimum income qualifier, he says. Land transfer tax and closing cost calculators are also in demand.
  • Native or web app. Choose carefully.
    • You can code an app that is “native” to a phone’s operating system (e.g., Apple iOS or Android), or you can build a web app that works on all smartphones in all browsers.
    • The latter seems intuitively better since they’re less expensive upfront, don’t have to be downloaded, and work on all devices.
    • But native apps are usually much faster (since they better leverage device hardware). They also free you from continual debugging on multiple browsers, plus they have an interface that mobile users will immediately recognize and be comfortable with.
    • As mentioned, 88% of the average smartphone user’s time is spent on apps and only 12% in their mobile browser, according to comScore. There’s a reason for that, and there’s also a reason that Facebook and LinkedIn have shifted focus away from web apps and on to native apps.
  • Ensure it’s professional
    • The design often casts the first impression of the firm behind the app. You want your app to look as good as something that Apple or Google would build themselves. So, avoid low-resolution images, unprofessional colour palates, visual clutter, tiny fonts and non-familiar icons.
  • Code to the Big 2
    • If your resources are limited, focus development on the two leading mobile platforms:
      • Android: 50.5% of the market
      • Apple iOS: 38.3% of the market
  • Get your own developer account
    • A developer account lets you distribute your own app in the Apple Store and Google Play store. It’s the link between you and your users.
    • Owning your own account lets you brand your app download site and issue new updates to users (a vital function to control, in the event you switch developers).
  • Market the heck out of it
    • Put your app download link everywhere—on your website, in your email signature, on your business cards, on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, you name it.

Apps are simple, familiar, intuitive and often fun. Millennials, 83% of whom sleep with their mobile device (literally), love them. And they are the future of the mortgage market.