Fronde

App Engine to deliver mobile applications to their customers

Mortgage Choice is Australia’s largest independently-operated mortgage broker helping Australians find a home loan that is right for their circumstances.

The Mortgage Choice website has an extensive range of financial calculators that assist their customers in making decisions for home loans. The website calculators were developed in Adobe Flash and so were unable to be accessed on many mobile devices. Mortgage Choice wanted to enable their customers to access a subset of this information via mobile devices, consequently native applications for both iPhone and Android devices were developed to meet this need.

Benefits

For Mortgage Choice

  • Extending customer reach through mobile technology
  • Easy to maintain mobile application
  • Added value to the customer relationship
  • Increased customer loyalty

For the Customer

  • Quick and easy access to relevant mortgage information and Mortgage brokers
  • Available while on the move

The Solution

The key areas of functionality that Mortgage Choice wanted to deploy to mobile applications were the mortgage calculators and the broker searches.

The formulas that the calculators use are subject to change (sometimes with short notice) and so ensuring that the mobile applications are always using current data presented a challenge. Mortgage Choice did not want to have an ongoing support overhead of programmatically updating the applications each time a formula for calculators, such as stamp duty, was altered. Consequently, key calculation parameters were made configurable via an administration console that Mortgage Choice maintains. This allowed Mortgage Choice to provide their customers with the convenience of fully native applications, without creating an ongoing overhead of having to programmatically update applications whenever minor changes to calculators are required.

In addition to providing customers with information on the cost of home loans, Mortgage Choice wanted to allow customers to find and contact a mortgage broker. Because Mortgage Choice did not already have existing interfaces to their legacy broker database, Fronde’s solution utilised the Google App Engine cloud infrastructure. Nightly data uploads via SMTP (automated emails) - an existing legacy service - keeps broker data in Google’s BigTable distributed database up to date.

Google App Engine was also a good fit for Mortgage Choice since they are already Google Apps users.

Operationally, Google App Engine provides all the infrastructure for the application backend web services. This service automatically scales according to the load. The distributed nature of the database and servers ensure the service is always available.

Mortgage Choice features

Native applications were developed for iPhone and Android devices. Google app engine was used to maintain the content for both applications.

Features include:

  • Google App Engine for post code queries, broker lookups, stamp duty and calculation settings
  • Data stored in Google App Engine’s native distributed data store called BigTable
  • Nightly data uploads of broker and franchise to App Engine via SMTP
  • Web admin tool for Mortgage Choice staff to update stamp duty rates and important calculation parameters. Security provided for by leveraging Mortgage Choice’s Google enterprise accounts.
  • Mobile Apps using RESTful web services on App Engine
  • Mobile Apps written in native code (Objective-C for iPhone, Java for Android) for a no compromise look and feel on the phone - no abstraction layers or ‘web views’ used

Success

  • Number of customer downloads
  • Increase in customer inquiries