Cash Free Future?


A cash free, paper free future…..

How often do we actually have the call for cash anymore? Or, for that matter, anything paper-based?

It’s been talked about for years, but are we now entering a cashless, paperless world?  More and more transactions use contactless bank cards, mobile phones or an Oyster card. There has been a massive rise in cash free/paper free, facilities in recent years, including, on-line shopping, food shopping, takeaways, parking tickets and toll booths. At the airport, boarding passes can be brought up on phones, and most admissions to cinemas, parks and concerts accept a mobile ticket.

So much of life is now lived by our cards or phones – online, interactive, at the click of a button. Contactless seemed a bit daring and futuristic when it first arrived on the scene, now it’s entirely humdrum. We think nothing about ordering and paying for takeaways online, or doing the same for taxis, flights, trains, clothes and holidays.

What about property?

Most transactions when it comes to property are cashless (not surprising given the sums involved).

While the property industry is largely cashless, it scores less well on the paperless front, with tenancy agreements, tenancy contracts and all the legal and mortgage paperwork (which is plenty) required for a house purchase/sale still likely to be printed out. Correspondence between agents, sellers, conveyancers, buyers, tenants and landlords is also likely to still be in letter form as well as emails. 

Anyone who has ever remortgaged will tell you just how much paperwork there is to sift through, while it’s a similar case for landlords and letting agents abiding by the huge amount of regulation at play in the rented sector. Tenants, too, are likely to face a heap of paperwork when they start a new tenancy, while many estate agents – even in this online age – still rely heavily on brochures, flyers, printed floorplans and other paper marketing materials.

Things could be starting to change, though. In April this year the first digital mortgage was lodged with Land Registry by Coventry Building Society and Enact Conveyancing, heralding a possible step-change in how mortgage deeds are managed.

For the first time in its 156-year history, an online mortgage deed was entered into the Land Register for a home in Rotherhithe, south-east London. It was carried out under the government department’s ‘Sign your mortgage deed’ service, which is part of a wider plan to build for a future without the need for a witness to watch as the homeowner applies an ink signature to a paper mortgage deed. This, in turn, should save time and provide a more secure service to homeowners, lenders and conveyancers.

The registration also formed part of Land Registry’s plans to transform the conveyancing market through quicker and simpler digital services and improved use of technology. Transactions will be instantaneous where possible, while the home buying process itself will be simplified. This move, by a key government department, along with the growing number of PropTech operators digitalising various services makes the prospect of a paperless (or much less paper-reliant) property industry in the future much more conceivable. 

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