TORONTO - When Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce decided to automate its loan decisions - criticized by small businesses as cumbersome and capricious - the country's second-largest bank couldn't just plug into a ready file of information.

Though consumer data are widely used, Canadian credit bureaus have no information on the nation's estimated 1.2 million small companies. That meant that the bank had to build a scorecard if it was to please customers and stave off regulatory criticism about lending practices.

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