E-CONVEYANCING IN VICTORIA: SECURITY CONCERNS ADDRESSED BY PEXA KEY
The emergence of e-conveyancing in the Australian market has seen exponential growth from a digital perspective. This includes the mandate use of e-conveyancing in Victoria from 1 October 2018; other states have since followed suit. All transactions including withdrawal of caveats, discharge of mortgages and property transfers take place through Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) - Australia’s online property exchange network.
E-conveyancing through PEXA reduces the risk of errors and delays, providing greater certainty of a successful and timely settlement. E-conveyancing has gained support from other technology providers across the sector – this includes Electronic Contracts, Electronic Signatures, Verification of Identity services and the State Revenue Office’s Duties Online Form. These services enable all parties including practitioners, financial institutions and government bodies to lodge documents and complete settlements electronically. The benefits of settling electronically include a reduction in manual activities and an increased transparency to all parties, especially the clients.
While it is important to note the advantages of e-conveyancing, the process is not presented without risk. MasterChef finalist Ms Dani Venn and her family sold a property in the outskirts of Melbourne through Sargeants Knox Conveyancing. The proceeds of their sale in the amount of $250,000.00 were stolen when hackers accessed the conveyancer’s PEXA account details and added themselves as another user. The hackers had broken into the conveyancing firms’ email accounts to access their mail from PEXA and were able to set up new user accounts.
There have been numerous isolated incidents that do not necessarily represent a systemic risk to the PEXA platform however need to be addressed to ensure security with account details and source transactions. This includes the sale transaction carried out by Country Lawyer Neil Longmore where funds in the amount of $305,000.00 had simply disappeared from the firms trust account. Although these funds were quickly recovered, the glitch had shaken confidence within the system. Another homeowner had more than $1 million stolen in a similar theft.
PEXA Key is a new application launched by PEXA in September 2019 which aims at providing a secure communication channel for clients and practitioners to share their account details. This provides support as it is a safe alternative to insecure communication via email through which account details can be intercepted and payments redirected. At De Marco Lawyers, we are proud to announce that we offer all clients the option to select communication via PEXA Key as security is paramount to our firm.
Upon downloading the app, the verification processes ensure that only the related parties can access the settlement details and the platform to view and provide account details in a secure manner. An access pin for the app needs to be set up and is required to login, this eliminates the risk of hackers accessing these accounts.
In addition to security features, the app offers educational material on the processes of buying and selling property and high-level settlement tracking. This enables the Purchaser and Seller to keep track of their settlement and understand what to expect throughout the process. The tracking system provides a countdown to settlement time and notifications of when the property has settled.
We believe that all clients should be provided with an opportunity to monitor their property settlements and gain transparency into the process. To learn more about how we can provide you with a secure property transaction with the assistance of PEXA Key, please contact our Conveyancing Team.
This article is intended only to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render legal advice. No reader should act on the basis of any matter contained in this article without first obtaining specific professional advice.
DISCLAIMER: We accept no responsibility for any action taken after reading this article. It is intended as a guide only and is not a substitute for the expert legal advice you can get from De Marco Lawyers and other relevant experts.