When banking software vendor Automated Financial Systems Inc. merged with payments systems consulting firm Littlewood, Shain and Co. on 1990, the event left many in the financial technology business scratching their heads as to how banks would benefit from the combination.

Founded in 1972, Exton, Pa.-based Automated Financial had built its business selling mainly commercial loan accounting software, a niche they have come to dominate among large U.S. banks. Blue-chip users of its flagship Level III mainframe-based software include Bank of America, Chase Manhattan Bank, Banc One, NationsBank, and Wells Fargo Bank, very demanding customers that are large enough to build their own commercial credit systems from scratch if they chose to.

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