It’s about time Facebook made some new strides toward business and civic fairness. Yesterday, the tech giant announced it has hired Roy L. Austin, Jr., to serve as the first-ever VP of Civil Rights and Deputy General Counsel, in charge of creating a new civil rights organization within the company.

Austin will start his new role January 19, 2021 out of Washington, DC.

A nationally renowned civil rights attorney and advocate, most recently Austin was a partner at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP specializing in criminal defense and civil rights law. He brings over 25 years of experience to what Facebook called “an incredibly important role for Facebook and for the tech industry,” without specifying what that role will entail. Whatever it will be, it’s a step in the right direction.

Facebook hires Roy L. Austin, Jr., as its first-ever VP of Civil Rights and Deputy General Counsel, in charge of creating a new civil rights organization within the company.

In 2020, a report by former American Civil Liberties Union director Laura W. Murphy released the results of the multiyear investigation and civil rights audit of Facebook highlighting some progress. Examples include Facebook’s new policy on discriminatory housing and employment ads and committing to meet more frequently with civil rights leaders, as well as various concerns.

“I am excited to join Facebook at this moment when there is a national and global awakening happening around civil rights,” Austin said in a statement. “Technology plays a role in nearly every part of our lives, and it’s important that it be used to overcome the historic discrimination and hate which so many underrepresented groups have faced, rather than to exacerbate it. I could not pass up the opportunity to join a company whose products are used by so many and which impacts the civil rights and liberties of billions of people, in order to help steer a better way forward.”

Austin started his career as an honors trial attorney with the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and spent many years in the federal government. Austin co-authored a report on big data and civil rights and worked with President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

“I know he will bring the same wisdom, integrity and dedication to Facebook,” said Jennifer Newstead, Facebook’s Chief General Counsel in a company statement.

Among mortgage tech provider news here are a few highlights:

  • FinLocker appoints Fannie exec Henry Cason as CEO
  • Tavant launches FinConnect on Salesforce AppExchange
  • Black Knight adds webhooks automation on Optimal Blue’s platform

FinLocker appoints Fannie exec Henry Cason as CEO

St. Louis, MO, based FinLocker, a digital, consumer-authorized personal financial assistance provider startup announced Henry Cason is joining the company as CEO following 27 years with Fannie Mae.

He will succeed Peter Esparrago, co-founder and now past CEO, who will become FinLocker’s executive chairman and will continue to lead key strategic business relationships.    

“Henry Cason is a transformational leader, who has played a critical role in the digitization of the mortgage industry dating to Fannie Mae’s introduction of Desktop Underwriter in the mid-1990s,” said Esparrago. “His vision involving the convergence of mortgage finance technology with consumer-permissioned data designed to support and empower consumers” aligns him perfectly with the long-term strategic objectives of FinLocker.

FinLocker provides a personal digital financial assistant tool financial institutions, mortgage originators, and credit counselors can offer to their customers to budget, monitor credit, manage debts, and receive net worth and cash flow analysis.

Borrowers can use the FinLocker app to assess their readiness to apply for a mortgage loan, begin their property search. Users also can store documents, and when ready to start their loan application, directly transfer their personal and financial documents to lenders make processing and underwriting of all financial products faster and less expensive.

“I am thrilled to join FinLocker at this exciting time in the company’s evolution,” said Cason. “As I look across the landscape of technology in the banking and mortgage space, FinLocker is addressing the market in a completely different way. Consumers are looking for customized journeys based on their holistic financial profile, including credit, asset, and income, to achieve their financial goals. FinLocker gives financial institutions a way to deliver customized offers by seeing a full picture of a consumer’s creditworthiness before they make an offer.”

FinLocker utilizes consumer-permissioned data at the top of the funnel to get homebuyers mortgage-ready, explained Cason. “FinLocker is well-positioned to extend its capabilities in consumer finance as a convergent technology solution that enables consumers to control their financial and personal data better,” and make sound short and long-term financial decisions.

Brian Vieaux, FinLocker president and a nearly three-decade mortgage industry veteran, who joined the company in 2019, will report to Cason.

Cason’s appointment follows a growth year for FinLocker, which, among other things, closed a $20 million Series A-1 financing round and announced a commercial partnership with, and equity investment by, TransUnion.

Tavant launches FinConnect on Salesforce AppExchange

Tavant has launched FinConnect on Salesforce AppExchange, which enables customers to connect the internal and external systems within their mortgage ecosystems. FinConnect is a component of Tavant’s artificial intelligence (AI) powered digital lending products, VΞLOX that helps to make the lending experience simple by providing lenders plug-and-play access to 130 connectors from more than 60 service providers, according to the company website.

The Santa Clara, California-based fintech said its integration with Salesforce Financial Services Cloud (FSC), addresses lenders’ challenges via accelerated capabilities that help fulfill and close loans quickly, “a capability that can empower lenders amid the COVID-19 crisis.”

FinConnect currently is available on AppExchange. Built on the Salesforce platform – it offers an end-to-end digital mortgage lending experience powered by AI, which operates as a lending data and enterprise mortgage services integration hub. Furthermore, the fintech said, it can effectively adapt and scale.

With FinConnect now on Salesforce AppExchange, “users can bring true digital disruption to the entire lending ecosystem. FinConnect enables a data-driven and personalized experience that consumers are now demanding,” said Abhinav Asthana, head of fintech product at Tavant. “In 2020 alone, FinConnect has processed over 20 million transactions and enabled over 1 million home loans… Tavant originates one out of every four loans in the U.S.”

The platform supplies on-demand data directly from the information source, helping lenders to close loans faster and improving borrower experience. Lenders have access to multiple application programming interfaces, or APIs and service providers and products such as identity, credit, income, asset, tax transcripts, appraisal, closing costs and fees, product & pricing engines, compliance, title and mortgage insurance.

Black Knight adds webhooks automation on Optimal Blue’s platform

Black Knight, Inc. announced the addition of a new webhooks component for Optimal Blue’s application programming interface (API) platform, another step in adapting its API-first strategy designed to boost lender efficiencies and workflow automation through real-time access to advanced secondary marketing for mortgage loans.

API webhooks publish event-based notifications directly to a subscriber, providing users a simple way to deliver real-time data about transactions that take place within Black Knight’s Optimal Blue, API Developer Portal platform.

Expanding universe of APIs is essential to our continuous innovation, explained Scott Happ, president, Black Knight’s secondary marketing technologies, the new webhooks component of our Optimal Blue API platform is the next step. “It saves our clients valuable time and effort by eliminating the need to request data. Webhooks take automation one step further and deliver up-to-date, relevant details directly to the user.”

While APIs have historically included a request followed by a response, no request is required for a webhook, he said, API webhooks automatically deliver the data when it becomes available significantly expediting data transfer efficiency.

Among others, lenders receive real-time notifications on lock requests, concessions, extensions, profile and product changes, relocks.

The initial launch will feature two components, documentation data transfers and a self-serve configuration dashboard based on a client’s personal preferences and can maintain specific notification URLs, the company said.

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