Digitising the Mortgage Journey: A Roadmap for Credit Unions and Building Societies

Digital Mortgage Journey Management | Which50

Credit unions and building societies are riding the crest of a wave right now as they continue to experience a significant rise in market share within the mortgage sector. This trend is particularly evident in the UK and Ireland and in Australia, where these institutions are increasingly seen as trusted and community-focused alternatives to traditional banks. As a catalyst for growth, digitising the mortgage journey has become an essential strategy to enhance customer experience, drive retention, streamline operations and remain competitive.

The Rise of Credit Unions and Building Societies

Recent years have seen credit unions and building societies continue to carve out a larger slice of the mortgage market. In the UK, their market share has steadily increased as more customers seek the personalised service and competitive rates these institutions offer. Similarly, in Australia and Ireland, credit unions have gained traction by leveraging their community ties and member-centric approach.

According to recent reports, UK building societies grew market share in new mortgage lending to 30% by March 2024, while Australian credit unions reported a 30% rise in mortgage applications over the past year. In the Irish context, credit unions increased their market share by 53% in 2023 and continue to make in-roads with competitive fixed rates.

These trends highlight the growing consumer preference for the bespoke services provided by these financial cooperatives. More broadly speaking, the mortgage landscape is changing and regulatory change is a key driver favouring choice and alternatives for the consumer. Amendments to the Credit Union Act in Ireland have opened up the mortgage market for credit unions while a Financial Services Royal Commission in Australia has had a profound impact on their financial system with Anja Pannek, chief executive of the Mortgage Finance Association of Australia, commenting: “Consumers are voting with their feet. Close to 72 per cent of Australians chose to use a mortgage broker. That’s up 12 or 13 percentage points since the mortgage brokers’ best interest duty was introduced after the [Hayne] Royal Commission.” This represents a longer-term opportunity for credit unions in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

5 Key Benefits of Digitising Mortgage Journeys for Mutual Banks & Credit Unions

As borrowers seek out more competitive mortgage solutions, lenders must adapt by deepening member relationships. By leveraging technology to enhance service, improve efficiency and lay a foundation for scalability, these organisations are poised for continued success in the mortgage arena. Below we explore the five key benefits of the digital transition:

1. Enhanced Efficiency and Cost Savings

Digitisation can significantly enhance efficiency of day-to-day operations for credit unions and building societies by automating routine tasks such as document and ID verification, customer communication, credit checks and application processing. This reduction in manual workload allows staff to focus their attention more closely on customer needs, personalising their service and more broadly the organisation can focus on strategic initiatives, ultimately leading to direct and indirect cost savings. Automated systems also minimise errors, ensure compliance with regulations and reduce the time and resources required for each mortgage application.

2. Improved Customer Satisfaction

Mobile Mortgage Journeys for Customers | Which50

A digital mortgage journey elevates customer satisfaction by providing a seamless, transparent and convenient experience for the customer. Borrowers can access real-time updates, upload necessary documents online and communicate instantly with their credit union or building society through secure messaging. This streamlined process reduces the traditional back-and-forth, making the mortgage application process quicker and more user-friendly, thus enhancing overall customer satisfaction.

3. Iterative Digital Transformation

Mutli-factor authentication mortgage journeys | Which50

While the benefits of digitisation are clear, the transformation process can appear daunting and sometimes poses challenges. These include integrating new technologies with existing systems, ensuring data security, managing organisational change and training staff to use digital tools effectively. Credit unions and building societies must approach this transformation strategically, mindful of cybersecurity measures, providing comprehensive training programs and choosing technology solutions that integrate seamlessly with their current operations. Addressing these challenges head-on ensures a smoother transition to a digital mortgage process. An iterative approach to transformation is less disruptive to day-to-day operations and allows these businesses to migrate to digital in a way that suits them and their customers.

4. Customer-Centric Digital Mortgage Solutions for Credit Unions (Mutuals)

For credit unions, mutual banks and building societies, placing members at the heart of the digital mortgage journey is the priority. By utilising user-friendly online platforms that offer features online applications and e-signatures, these institutions can cater to the unique needs and busy lives of their members. Personalised digital communication tools, such as email notifications and SMS updates, keep borrowers informed and engaged throughout the process, reinforcing the member-centric approach that distinguishes credit unions and mutuals from traditional banks.

5. Leveraging Technology to Streamline Mortgage Approval Times

Many technological solutions can dramatically reduce mortgage approval times but the big picture represents an even greater opportunity. Through the use of APIs (Application Programme Interfaces), financial institutions can integrate these proven technologies with core banking systems for an enhanced understanding of the needs of the customer, more robust security and a seamless customer experience across many different customer journeys.

Six Steps to Digitising the Mortgage Journey

The benefits of digitisation can be quickly realised by lenders when leveraging trusted technology built specifically for regulated environments – this is where CustomerMinds and the Which50 platform come in. Credit unions and building societies have grown their market share by offering a compelling alternative to traditional banks and now they can match their technological capabilities too without risking member funds through significant investment in customised IT systems.

  1. A User-Friendly Online Platform: The first step is to use an intuitive online platform where customers can start their mortgage journey. With busy lifestyles, the paperwork and offline processing through branches can either delay or derail the process for applicants. Convenience is essential and online capabilities are expected.
  2. Automate the Application Process: Implementing automation for the application process can significantly speed up approvals. Digital income & expenditure assessments, digital document and ID request, upload and verification can reduce the time from application to approval from weeks to days. Given the important role of mortgage brokers, the ability to support them with technology as part of the process is also becoming ever-more important.
  3. Integrate Digital Communication Tools: Keeping borrowers informed throughout the process is crucial. Implementing email notifications, SMS and WhatsApp updates ensures that customers are always aware of their application’s status.
  4. Adopt e-Signature Solutions: E-signatures can eliminate the need for in-person visits, making it easier for borrowers to complete necessary documentation remotely. This not only speeds up the process but also enhances convenience for the customer and security for both parties.
  5. Leverage Data Analytics: Utilising data analytics to gain insights into customer preferences and behaviour can help in tailoring mortgage products and marketing strategies to better meet the needs of the borrowers within your member base.
  6. Ensure Robust Security Measures: Protecting customer data is paramount. Implementing strong cybersecurity measures, including encryption, multi-factor authentication and regular security audits, will help in maintaining the integrity and trustworthiness of the digital platform. The digital audit trail also provides peace of mind, transparency and compliance with regulatory standards.


Credit unions, mutual banks and building societies have enjoyed a period of sustained growth in mortgage market share. In order to continue that trend, they must continue to adapt – digitising the mortgage journey is no longer a luxury but a necessity. By enhancing customer experience, improving operational efficiency, leveraging data and ensuring security these institutions can continue to represent a strong alternative to traditional banks. Embracing digital transformation will drive competitiveness and reinforce excellence in customer service while personalisation capabilities bolster the community-driven relationships that differentiate credit unions and mutual banks from traditional banks.