The biggest tech headline-grabber these past few days is that two vaccines engineered with mRNA technology by Pfizer and Moderna may get approved by the CDC by the end of this month.

Approach to orthogonally label YF prME mRNA with dual radionuclide–near-IR probes

Effective at over 95%, the technology is DNA-based. Moderna describes mRNA medicines as not small molecules (like traditional meds), nor are they weakened biologics or viruses that help the body learn to fight it, like traditional vaccines. Instead, mRNA medicines are sets of instructions that “direct cells in the body to make proteins to prevent or fight disease.” Moreover, insiders expect the innovative tech will bring to market more effective meds for other diseases.

Interested in more? Try figuring out the graphic at right. ➡

In some sad, more somber tech news this week, Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, a tech visionary turned real estate entrepreneur and central figure in revitalizing downtown Las Vegas, died of fire injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday. He was 46.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh

Peers and Las Vegas residents have been celebrating his life and accomplishments, including his leadership of the company that made him a new-era business-management guru, according to Reuters. A very successful entrepreneur, he was labeled by a New Yorker profile in 2009 as the architect not just of a company culture centered on “Zappiness,” but of a broader happiness-spreading movement.

In real estate finance and mortgage news, advanced technology, which is increasingly more often powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), is bearing more efforts that focus on delivering a more efficient, more affordable real estate and mortgage transaction for homebuyers.

Here’s a glimpse at this week’s stories:

Wemlo, a startup that launched 22 months ago, is offering an AI-powered mortgage processing tool for mortgage brokers; Candor originated 50K defect-insured digital loans; Tomo raised $40M in seed funding; Homewise & Fintel Connect launched an affiliate marketing program in Canada

Wemlo introduces AI mortgage processing for brokers

Wemlo has introduced Athena, AI powered mortgage processing that assists mortgage loan brokers. The 22-month old cloud service startup, which specializes in third-party mortgage loan processing services, designed Athena to serve as a virtual assistant that enables brokers to improve loan workflow by using logic technology and intelligence throughout the broker channel.   

Athena helps improve loan processing by identifying discrepancies within the mortgage loan application including document verification based on loan type. It builds on wemlo’s first solution for mortgage brokers that combines third-party loan processing with an enterprise-grade, all-in-one digital platform.

“By helping to identify potential issues within the 1003 mortgage application before it is sent to lender underwriting, Athena increases efficiency for the mortgage loan originator and processor, creating a systemic approach to make sure the 1003 is full and complete and a good file is created,” said David Rogove, a co-founder of wemlo, which leads to less lender delays.

Intelligence features includes the ability to request title and automatically generate fees, explained Steven Gelley, also a wemlo co-founder. “As Athena evolves with additional automated activities she will help make mortgage loan originators who use the wemlo platform more effective, and increase speed for clear to close.”

Wemlo’s founders say the mortgage broker channel is ripe for change. Available nationwide,wemlo is a subsidiary of RE/MAX Holdings, which includes RE/MAX, a global franchisor of real estate brokerage services, and its U.S. affiliate Motto Mortgage.

Candor’s new LES underwrites 50K defect-insured digital loans

Atlanta’s mortgage fintech Candor has officially launched a Loan Engineering System (LES) that completely automates “the critical thinking needed to underwrite a loan.” So yes, a robot powered by Candor’s patent pending Knowledge Engineering Technology (KET) does the job with zero intervention.

During its initial stress test, according to Candor, powered by KET, the LES mortgage underwriting, platform independently originated 50,000 loans. That’s not all. Those 50,000 loans have the backing of “a defect insurance policy” that helps reduce both scratch and dent, and repurchase risk.   

“Candor addresses the most significant and hard to solve problem in mortgage manufacturing:  modeling an underwriter’s critical thinking,” said Thomas Showalter, Candor’s CEO. The platform successfully institutionalizes “underwriter thought life in a machine, using our proprietary, patent pending form of Knowledge Engineering,” underwriting a quality loan with virtually no human assistance.

LES users report per loan cost reductions of more than $1,000 and a cycle time reduction of nearly 20 days, according to Candor.

“The low cost to implement levels the playing field between mega and small to mid-size lenders,” said Brandie Young, Candor’s chief marketing officer, providing a broad market appeal.  

Candor reportedly is a self and Angel-funded company that says its target market exceeds $3.1B in processing fees.

Tomo raises $40M seed funding

Tomo Networks Inc., a fintech startup founded by former Zillow executives Greg Schwartz and Carey Armstrong that’s expected to launch its home buying services, initially as a digital mortgage and transaction company, has raised a seed round of $40 million led by Ribbit Capital, NFX and Zigg Capital.

Institutional investors also include SVB Capital, hedge fund luminaries Alex Sacerdote, Kurt Mobley & Eli Weinberg; former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff; and Ted Ackerley of Seattle-based Ackerley Partners LLC.

Tomo plans to build a digital mortgage company whose platform will streamline home buying for both the consumer and their real estate agent, so it is less time-consuming, confusing and stressful, according to the company website. It reportedly will be “human-driven, technology-enabled and ambitious in its scope.” The founding team also includes alumni of USAA, MINI (BMW Group), eXp Realty, Goldman Sachs, Nordstrom and Convoy.

“Despite years of tech companies focusing on real estate, the overall process has not changed enough,” said Greg Schwartz, CEO and co-founder. “We dream about the life we will build in our new home, yet dread the process of getting there. Tomo will give us what we want and deserve: the efficiency of a tech-enabled real estate transaction and the intimacy of having a team of elite professionals on our side.”

Tomo’s team reportedly is dedicated to the philosophy of Omotenashi in anticipating and meeting the customer’s needs and providing services the Japanese hospitality way, “honest, no hiding, no pretending.”

“We are very excited to invest in the idea and team behind Tomo,” said Nick Huber, partner at Ribbit Capital. “Our mission is to invest in the leading teams and companies who are transforming the financial services industry.”

“I have known this team for more than a decade and they will deliver on the movement my team and I drove when we founded Trulia,” said Pete Flint, general partner at NFX. “NFX is excited to partner with this exceptional team.”

Tomo currently is hiring across the country aiming to focus on teams in Austin, Texas, Seattle and Stamford, Connecticut. More company details will become available in early 2021, the startup said.

Homewise & Fintel Connect launch affiliate marketing program

Canadian business-to-consumer fintech platform Homewise launched a digital mortgage marketing program powered by Fintel Connect technology. The program includes a personal Homewise Advisor feedback feature to guide applicants’ mortgage option selection, loan approval and closing – which is free.

The collaboration offers consumers a start to finish automated loan application process for mortgage pre-approval, approval, refinancing or switching providers from Homewise’s network of over 30 banks and lenders to match the unique financial needs of each applicant. The affiliate program also will leverage Fintel’s network, the company said.

Fintel aims to support fintechs such as Homewise “that are disrupting the space of financial services,” to deliver a better home-buying experience, explained Nicky Senyard, CEO of Fintel Connect. Since Fintel’s network of partners span across the verticals of personal finance, real estate, and home and lifestyle, “Homewise’s platform will be a great match for their audiences.”

“Homewise helps make that buying process easier and more transparent,” said Jesse Abrams, Homewise CEO and co-founder. “Our technology is here to help new and current homeowners across Canada, and working with Fintel Connect’s wide-reaching network of trusted finance influencers enables us to help build the awareness and reach of our solution.” 

Fintel Connect, a performance marketing fintech Based in Vancouver, Canada, supports a wide range of tier one banks, community banks and financial technology companies.

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