“The RON game accelerated three years in three weeks.”
That’s how Nexsys Executive Vice President Mike Lyon summed up the seismic shift in Remote Online Notarization (RON) interest brought on in the digital closing industry by COVID-19. Lyon recently joined a panel of other industry experts on a digital closing webinar sponsored by HousingWire and hosted by DocMagic. The webinar discussed Hybrid and eNote digital closings while providing an up-to-date look at recent industry momentum behind RON legislation.
“The inertia of the industry as a whole has changed,” Lyon said. “There was never an event to push us forward into the digital universe until now. (Traditional closings) were what we had been doing forever, and we were just going to keep doing them – until now.” Referring to the mandates and guidelines for social distancing in the wake of COVID-19, Lyon noted that inquiries and requests for RON digital closings have skyrocketed, turning what used to be considered a nice-to-have option into nearly a necessity within a very short time.
“The landscape has changed so dramatically in the last five weeks,” he said. “Everybody is pushing hard to get the (digital closing) ball rolling.” Currently, 24 states have permanently approved RON legislation, while 23 others have given these closings temporary approval.
Yet even if all states adopt RON legislation, inconsistencies in notary requirements will remain a challenge in developing multi-state platforms. For example, some states require that RON software be approved by their secretary of state, while others allow notaries to use any providers. However, RON’s credential analysis, knowledge-based authentication, elimination of missed signatures and comprehensive audit trail will ultimately outweigh the challenges and position it as the most secure, efficient method for digital closings, Lyon added.
The webinar also focused on other digital closing strategies, particularly Hybrid notarizations. According to Chris Lewis, Senior Account Executive – Enterprise Solutions for DocMagic, Hybrid closings can be the “first mile in a tactical approach” toward a fully digital closing. “Hybrids are the baseline of eClosings because they have no impediments to entry,” he said. Lewis added that they’re relatively easy to implement and upgrade to include eSignatures, an eNote (digital mortgage note) and an eVault (for storing digital mortgage notes).
Other webinar panelists included Brian D. Pannell, PMP (Chief eServices Executive, DocMagic), Jason Nadeau (Chief Digital Officer, Fidelity National Financial) and Ben Sherman (President, Synrgo). The primary takeaways from the event were:
- Underwriters are getting on board with digital closings, and settlement adoption is booming.
- Legislation allowing for RON adoption is quickly gaining momentum.
- 2020 was the year of the eNote, but 2021 will be the year of the RON closing.
- You don’t have to dive into digital closings with a full-on RON strategy. You can begin with Hybrid closings and scale up.
“Until now, you could order just about everything online, and you could do just about everything online – except a mortgage closing. Our efficiency standards were firmly planted in the 1970s,” Lyon said in closing. “But once the industry has recognized the efficiencies of digital closings, we’re never going back.”