Appro Software Can Issue Credit Cards in Seconds

An Atlanta company is offering software that's said to issue credit cards in less than 20 seconds.

The software, which runs on a powerful personal computer, is part of a credit application processing system from Appro Systems Inc.

When a bank has a credit report of the card applicant on file, a computer using the software can evaluate an application, approve it, and issue a card without involving bank employees.

Less Staff Needed

The system is designed to free credit officers from poring over applications that would clearly be approved under standard bank policies. Company officials said the system could make decisions on as much as 40% of a financial institution's credit card applications.

Such numbers could translate into significant work force reductions in a bank's credit department, while increasing card volume, bankers said. Credit cards have long been one of the most profitable lines of business for financial institutions.

In addition to increasing profitability, some bankers said, the card-issuing system is alos useful in the quickly merging banking industry.

"If you are squeezing two branches into one, you need automation like this just to keep up with the volume," said Frank Thomas, vice president of consumer lending at First Nationwide Bank, which is evaluating the credit card software.

Doubts on Quality Assurance

However, with credit card and loan defaults on the rise, credit quality has become a huge concern, and some experts asked whether it is prudent to leave credit decisions to a machine.

"The question I would ask is whether this is overkill," said M. Arthur Gillis, an independent consultant based in New Orleans. "Banks are riding a rocky road right now, and I'm not sure this is a good response to their problems."

Company officials and bankers using the system emphasized that only clear-cut approvals - applications that met all requirements set by the bank - would prompt card issuance.

"A vast number of credit decisions are clear-cut approvals or rejections that are based [on] parameters created by the bank," said Graig Uffman, a vice president and general manager at Appro. "It only makes sense to use a computer for these and refer the more complex cases to live employees."

Cost Estimated at $15,000 Plus

Appro Systems gave no pricing information, but industry experts estimated that the system - consisting of the software, a high-powered personal computer, and a sophisticated printer - would cost about $15,000 to $20,000 per location.

The card-issuing system is part of a large loan origination system from Appro. In addition to San Francisco-based First Nationwide, institutions including the Seattle First National Bank unit of BankAmerica Corp. and Premier Bank in Baton Rouge, La., have installed other components of the package.

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