Affinity Technology Group, a pioneer of self-service consumer lending, is hoping a patent approval it received last week will help boost its earnings outlook and revive its sagging stock price.

Still in the final stages of being issued, the patent would protect the Columbia, S.C.-based vendor's rights to its technology, which can grant instant approvals of consumer loans through any type of communications network, including the Internet. Self-service kiosks, called automated loan machines, that Affinity has sold since its founding in 1994 also would be covered by the patent.

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