Innovative Business of the Year 2018


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Start-up name: Habito
Founder: Daniel Hegarty
Started in: 2016
Based in: London
Business description: A free online mortgage broker

Founded on the belief that the mortgage process should be simpler and fairer and mortgage advice should be free and unbiased, Habito is an online platform that vows to make mortgage brokering better – by making it digital.

By accessing over 20,000 mortgage products (from more than 70 lenders) in real-time, Habito can recommend “the best possible” deal for each customer. Importantly, Habito is free to use, and its algorithm has no bias towards particular lenders or borrowers – unlike human brokers.

A true innovator in the mortgage sector, Habito is also pioneering the world’s first digital mortgage adviser: the DMA.

An artificially intelligent chatbot, the DMA asks customers about their finances and life plans. It then uses market rates to calculate the mortgage payments each customer should expect, and explains how their decisions will impact this.

So, with AI covering the paperwork, admin and product research, Habito’s human brokers have more time to add real value by supporting customers and resolving complex cases.

Another first for the sector, in August 2018 Habito launched its first add-on product – life insurance. After just nine fast and non-intrusive questions, homebuyers are given 90 days of the insurance for free – after which they can simply opt in or out online.

In two and a half years, Habito has grown from five to 106 employees, and completed £1bn in mortgage applications. And with a five-star Trustpilot rating, it seems the fintech start-up is certainly achieving what it set out to.

Our judges were impressed by a number of disruptive pioneers in this category. Retail finance platform Divido was awarded the Highly Commended trophy, while Diffblue, a creator of AI for code, took home the Commended title.

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