Australian Competition & Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims says he is prepared to get more involved in the electronic property settlement market to push for a structure that facilitates competition and lower prices as the industry reaches a “pivot point”.
ASX-backed Sympli today unveiled plans to take on larger rival PEXA in the online property exchange market, with the newer player winning a key licence and pitching itself as a lower cost alternative that could halve prices on certain product lines.
Sympli expects to offer its first document lodgment services as early as next month, after the federal regulator gave the go-ahead to operate as an econveyancing platform in competition to newly privatised rival PEXA.
Sympli boss David Wills told the Financial Review he hopes to launch by March or April next year. Mr Wills added that Sympli, which reports testing of its system is advanced in two states with the other not far behind, is not limited to one or two party transactions.
Sympli is about one-third of the way through a roadshow targeting conveyancers in the country's three biggest markets; Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
It is giving conveyancers a working example of what its slated property payments exchange would look like and how it fits into the software suite owned by its shareholder InfoTrack.
The operator of the nation’s only working electronic conveyancing network has urged the states to accelerate their rollout of the new system after its successful adoption in Victoria.
Victoria’s mandatory switch to e-conveyancing took place this month despite calls from the state opposition for the changeover to be delayed until a competitive market could be established for e-conveyancing network services.
But that is what confronts Sympli, a venture with powerful backers that is counting the days until it has regulatory approval to go head-to-head with PEXA, the monopoly provider of electronic conveyancing network services.
PEXA has been growing fast and that growth will accelerate next month thanks to Victoria’s mandatory move away from paper-based conveyancing.
Releasing its results for the financial year 2018, the ASX confirmed that it had invested $6.6 million in a joint venture with Australian Technology Innovators (which owns InfoTrack) to form Sympli Australia Pty Ltd (Sympli), as first announced earlier this year.
The new business intends to offer electronic conveyancing (e-conveyancing) solutions for property settlements and will become a competitor to the state government and bank-owned Property Exchange Australia (PEXA).
Electronic property settlement business PEXA is facing a revolt by Victorian solicitors aimed at delaying a statewide switch to online property transfers that will hand the company an effective monopoly before its possible sale.
The revolt was triggered by Law Institute of Victoria concern about the security of electronic transactions and the company’s ability to cope after Victoria’s mandatory switch to electronic conveyancing on October 1.
Sympli, a new operator in the electronic title transfer market, says it shouldn’t be compulsory for consumers to use the PEXA system until security, regulatory and competition issues are resolved.
Australia’s two biggest states are leading a decades-long quest to entrench digital e-conveyancing as the norm across the property sector, which settles $300 billion of transactions annually.
There's nothing like a bit of corporate intrigue to liven up the normally quiet world of property conveyancing. May 31 will go down as a big day in the sector's history.
The long-awaited blow to the $1 billion-plus sales ambitions of electronic property settlements group PEXA was delivered on Thursday, when ASX Ltd formally announced its intention to partner with legal software group InfoTrack and create a challenger to PEXA's monopoly.
ASX Limited has unveiled plans to invest alongside technology group InfoTrack and enter the $200 million electronic property settlement market, pitting it against bank and state government owned Property Exchange Australia.
In a statement on Thursday, ASX said it was teaming with Australian Technology Innovators, the parent of InfoTrack, to form Sympli Australia.