School of
Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

The home loan market could soon be disrupted thanks to cross-disciplinary research by a University of Queensland student team in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank (CBA).

Over 12 weeks, five students from UQ’s faculties of Business, Economics and Lawand Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology collaborated with UQ staff and CBA executives to research the potential of ‘smart lending’.

The students formed their own startup, LendX, and developed a smart lending business model to simplify and automate home loans and help customers easily alter their loan contracts. 

CBA project lead Michael Smith said smart lending involved applying new technologies – like smart contracts and Blockchain – to the lending industry.

“The way we currently operate is based on technological advancements from previous decades, and it’s not sustainable,” Mr Smith said.

“We’re eager to investigate how a smart lending business model will improve our ability to offer a better service and price to our home loan customers.

“Thanks to the efforts of the UQ student team, we’re able to test their idea, elaborate on it and learn more about it, so we can be better informed to take the next step – whatever it may be.”

LendX lead investigator and UQ Business School senior lecturer Dr Kelvin Tan said the student-led project had enriched UQ research, learning and teaching.

“Students from different areas applied their knowledge to a practical research project in a real commercial environment, and learnt from each other in the process,” Dr Tan said.

“In terms of teaching, one of our roles was to help the students develop practical solutions to solve industry problems.

“But their project is also informing us about what we should be teaching our students, such as Blockchain and other new technologies, to ensure they’re future-ready.”

The LendX team flew to Sydney last year to pitch their smart lending business model to a panel of investors made up of senior CBA executives.

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Commerce student Tara O’Kane said the project had been invaluable for her personal and professional development.

“It was a great opportunity to put my knowledge and skills into practice while working with both industry professionals and other students,” Ms O’Kane said.

“I also gained industry insights and experiences that will help me with other courses and in my future career.”

Mr Smith said he commended the LendX students and staff for their enthusiasm and commitment to the project.

“It was great to see UQ students thinking outside the lines of their discipline and demonstrating an understanding of each other and of commercial realities,” he said.

“They genuinely believed in working together towards a common goal, using elements of both business and technology.  

“If more of our university graduates have this ability, we’ll have a rich pool to recruit from.”

The UQ-CBA project was funded by a $100,000 contribution from CBA.

Staff from UQ Business School, the School of Information Technology and Electrical EngineeringUQ Idea Hub and ilab provided their knowledge and expertise to the project, while CBA staff ran initial training sessions for students on campus. 

The project was co-led by Dr Kelvin Tan from UQ Business School and Associate Professor Marius Portmann from the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.