Established in 1979, Balmain Corporation is a broad-based financial services organisation specialising in commercial property finance. Balmain is a leading Australian non-bank commercial property lender.
“Balmain Corporation is a financial services organisation which started with commercial loan origination. Over 40 years, we have grown to become a major investment and construction loan lender and the sectors leading asset and credit managers. The company also owns Balmain Private, which is Australia’s largest and most efficient platform for investors to seek first mortgage exposure in the growing real estate debt market. We are one of the biggest non-bank lenders in Australia, have over $40 billion worth loans under management and we continue to grow significantly,” said Vik Sharma, Head of Information Technology, Balmain Corporation.
Rising business demands and technological evolution
Balmain Private lets customers invest in individual first mortgage loans to build their own investment portfolios. Every individual Sub-Trust offers different returns, LVR and term. Investors can manage their portfolio via Balmain’s web-based Investor Control Console (ICC) and the new Balmain Private App, both of which provide detailed information about investment opportunities as well as comprehensive, reportable summaries on all their investment portfolio, including interest payments, cash units and loan units.
With the rising business demands, usage of smartphones and internet availability, Balmain Private recognised the need for a mobile application for their Investors, so they could make, track and stay updated with their investments.
“Balmain Private, as a business, had grown significantly with most of the investors being either SMSF’s, self-employed or high net worth individuals. Having a mobile application sitting alongside our responsive website became a necessity for our business. A notification direct from our app to all Investors would inform them when a new loan is listed, so our Investors no longer needed to be chained to their desktops and can be out and about. Using the app, the Investors can select the loan they wish to invest in and their application for units can be made live from wherever they maybe.” said Vik.
Mission-critical mobile application
Balmain’s decision to design and develop a mobile application was critical as it resonated with other businesses in the industry that started adopting the emerging and enabling technologies and systems like 5G, cloud computing and big data. Also, a mobile application has become a crucial marketing tools that businesses need to have to reach their customers effectively and efficiently.
“With all the technological evolution, we wanted to offer our Investors the best possible experience and that’s why we decided to modernise our investment channels. The key drivers were to make sure we have the competitive advantage, staying ahead of the market and offer exceptional user experience for our customers,” explained Vik.
Balmain Private engaged Telstra, and its consulting and global technology arm, Telstra Purple, to develop and modernise their business-critical mobile application.
“We have been a Telstra partner for more than 17 years now – it’s a longstanding relationship. Telstra, always, have been our first preference because of the relationship we share.”
“Building this app challenged us to get the right infrastructure and technology in place. So, we were looking for the right partner to help us solve these challenges. We needed a partner who could provide us the infrastructure required including the hardware, bandwidth and network links, guide us in app development, help us promote the app and get the best out of it. We wanted to get it right the first time.”
“Our ICC website and the app are the only avenue for our customers to invest; so, reliability and speed are absolutely critical for our operations,” added Vik.
A year of transformation
Telstra and its partners worked with Balmain’s IT team, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and helped them build a native mobile application, with underlying hardware and links provided, configured and deployed by Telstra Purple.
"Our mobile app development started in Dec 2019 and had to be paused briefly because of COVID-19. When many businesses were staying put and taking a backseat, Balmain saw this as an opportunity. We resumed our work as quickly as possible and remained focussed and pragmatic,” mentioned Vik.
Balmain’s transformation strategy was based on migrating their Investors towards a mobile app driven operation, which meant they needed the right software and infrastructure along with a seamless deployment. This process involved making changes to the workflow and backend systems, so that the transition could be flawless with no outages.
“Our development and release happened last year which was a short time from concept to deployment. Deployment was quick and I am very happy that Telstra and our other partners were focused despite of the challenges we faced,” said Vik.
“We got great feedback from the users. The secure biometric login when submitting an investment request, takes less than a minute. It’s simple and versatile. People can look at their portfolio anytime, anywhere. The mobile app makes the investment experience so much easier.”
Some of the features of the app include choosing from a wide range of individual commercial loan investments, managing portfolio from anywhere, anytime and tracking your investments in real-time. It also provides access to information about the location of the relevant, invested security properties, along with their images, portfolio summary, payment status, credit history and new loan unit investments.
“Our app includes the features of a banking app that provides account details and that of a real-estate app that provides details of the properties. There is no other app like this in the market in Australia,” claimed Vik.
“The app lets us provide all the information that our investors need, wherever they are, to make better, wiser investments; it’s at their fingertips.”
Balmain is planning to transform their website experience too, similar to the one it offers with their app, and also introduce advisory services where their Advisors would invest on behalf of the investors.
“Our Advisors talk to the investors to understand their requirements then recommend portfolios and make investments. We are looking forward to including this functionality which would set us up for the future – it’s looking really good for us. Thanks to Telstra Purple, without whom we couldn’t have done this,” said Vik.