The nation’s second largest mortgage lender, United Wholesale Mortgage, has plans to accept bitcoin for mortgage payments.
The Pontiac, Michigan-based company’s CEO Mat Ishbia told Yahoo that scores of its customers hold crypto, so why not let them use it to pay the mortgage?
As to why they’d want to do that, it’s a bit unclear. But he holds nothing back when saying UWM is the “best tech company in the mortgage space by a wide margin.”
And yes, that’s probably a shot at its crosstown rival Rocket Mortgage, which is situated about 25 miles south in downtown Detroit.
Almost One Million Homeowners Pay UWM Every Month
During the interview, Yahoo’s Julie Hyman brought up the company’s plans to accept bitcoin, and like AMC’s recent announcement, “read it as a way to get headlines.”
Ishbia brushed that off and spoke of the company’s role as a leader, innovator, and tech company (something mortgage companies are big on these days).
He added that nearly one million customers pay them each month since they’re a loan servicer too, and a lot of them apparently have a good amount of cryptocurrency.
“They’d like to be able to transfer it in,” he said, so how do they accomplish that? Well, they accept bitcoin obviously.
Again, in terms of motivation to do that, it’s not clear. Maybe the convenience of it, maybe something else?
But Ishbia’s motivation appears to be driven by competition, namely from Rocket Mortgage, the nation’s top mortgage lender.
If UWM can proclaim themselves the first mortgage lender to accept bitcoin as payment, it’s a win, regardless of the utility behind it.
Many believe bitcoin is a terrible currency to use for payment, largely because of its extreme volatility.
For example, you could transfer in $2,500 worth of bitcoin to pay your mortgage today, only to see its value rise to $3,500 a few days later.
The opposite is also true, which explains why UWM doesn’t plan on keeping the crypto on its balance sheet. In fact, they’ll likely convert it into dollars immediately.
UWM Not Looking to Be a Crypto Investor
As to how consumers will be able to pay their mortgages in bitcoin or possibly other cryptocurrencies remains to be seen.
But Ishbia indicated that the company doesn’t plan to be an investor in crypto, and that they’d immediately “convert it to cash.”
In other words, UWM customers would likely be able to make direct payments from their crypto wallets for an amount equal to their mortgage payment.
Whether there’d be transaction fees along the way is unclear, and how they’d get it down to the exact penny could also be a slight challenge.
Of course, the company boasts “1,200 tech people,” so they should be in good hands there to figure it all out.
The important piece appears to be the fact that they’d be the first mortgage lender to offer it, which is notable in itself.
People Think Mortgage Is Old and Sleepy
Ishbia boasted that they “have the best innovation team in the country,” and will continue to lead when it comes to tech.
As such, crypto payments might just be the tip of the iceberg. He said they’re also looking at non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are digital assets stored on the blockchain.
They often come in the form of digital art, with some valued at millions of dollars despite being nothing more than a JPEG file.
To combat the image that “mortgage is old and sleepy,” Ishbia says UWM will continue to innovate in any way possible.
“I’m not going to sit here and wait for everyone else to do it and then follow,” he said.
So there you have it – soon you’ll be able to pay your mortgage with bitcoin (and perhaps other cryptocurrencies) if UWM happens to be your loan servicer.
As to why you would, the jury is still out on that, as it is for buying anything else with bitcoin.
But because crypto is so buzzworthy, expect other mortgage companies to follow suit in the near future.
Update: UWM said it accepted its first cryptocurrency mortgage payment in September, followed by five more in October.
At the same time, they noted that “due to the current combination of incremental costs and regulatory uncertainty in the Crypto space we’ve concluded we aren’t going to extend beyond a pilot at this time.”
In other words, don’t expect to pay the mortgage with crypto…instead, just buy your house outright with it!