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Shieldpay awarded Innovate UK grant to transform housing transactions

[Article originally featured in Mortgage Finance Gazette. Authored by Joanne Atkin

Secure payments provider Shieldpay has been awarded an Innovate UK grant, which it will use to scale up its Third Party Managed Account (TPMA) solution in the UK.

Shieldpay expects that this will lay strong foundations for it to expand into the global real estate market.

In May this year, Shieldpay successfully completed the UK’s first fully digital housing transaction with MyHomeMove and Barclays, with the support of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) and other industry stakeholders.

The solution re-thinks how real estate transactions are done and enables parties to complete on transactions at anytime from anywhere; including completing a house purchase on a weekend or bank holiday.

According to Shieldpay, the current payments process within housing transactions is convoluted. It involves coordinating multiple payments across multiple accounts with different banks and between consumers, lawyers, lenders and other stakeholders, such as HM Revenue & Customs and HM Land Registry.

All parties are vulnerable to fraud due to inherent weaknesses in the system and in the UK alone, more than £85 million was withdrawn fraudulently from solicitors in 2017.

Shieldpay’s payment solution mitigates the risk of fraud by verifying the identity of all parties, holding funds securely and only releasing the money when all sides agree they’re happy.

The TPMA solution removes the need for solicitors to hold client money; and provides greater transparency to all stakeholders on the money flow in a real estate transaction, says Shieldpay.

Geoff Dunnett, real estate director at Shieldpay, commented: “This grant recognises the transformative work we are doing in this sector. It will allow us to change the way real estate transactions are undertaken, improving the homebuying process in the UK and beyond.”

Stephen Ward, director of strategy and external relations at the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, said: The CLC is delighted to have supported pilots of the use of Shieldpay’s escrow system in conveyancing transactions.

“Those pilots have demonstrated the potential value of modern digital escrow in reducing risks as money changes hands and by improving the homebuying process more broadly. We look forward to the development of this tool and encourage others to work with us as we support innovation in conveyancing.”

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.