Credit Management Solutions Inc. and Dun & Bradstreet Corp. are working together on a credit scoring system for small businesses.

The product, called OneScore, is to be "one of the first attempts to blend information from consumers and from the businesses those consumers run to come up with a score," said Scott Freiman, executive vice president of Credit Management Solutions, which is based in Columbia, Md.

Under terms of the partnership arrangement, Murray Hill, N.J.-based Dun & Bradstreet will supply a scoring model to be incorporated into Credit Management's credit processing system.

The companies' joint work is meant to produce a system that can help banks and other companies assess the risk of dealing with specific small businesses. The companies did not say when the system would be generally available.

Banks have identified the small-business market as a significant source of future credit revenue, said Jeffrey S. Infusino, a vice president at Mercer Management Consulting.

But because the finances of small businesses are often affected by the personal finances of their owners, some have feared that banks' focus on small businesses may be rife with risk.

In addition, the cost of processing a credit application for a small business can be prohibitive.

OneScore is an attempt to help banks deal with both problems.

Both Credit Management and Dun & Bradstreet offer credit scoring services to financial institutions.

OneScore could be used by banks to identify creditworthy loan prospects and for various marketing applications, said John F. Carey, vice president at Dun for financial services, major markets.

The system also could help banks reduce the cost of acquiring small- business clients by consolidating and automating much of the credit checking. Such costs "for small-business loans can be pretty staggering," Mr. Infusino said.

Dun expects to shoulder most of the burden of marketing OneScore, according to Mr. Freiman.

In addition to the banking industry, OneScore would be marketed to insurance companies, office products suppliers, and telecommunications firms, Mr. Carey said.

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