Regulators have rejected industry pleas to delay a requirement that banks and thrifts collect Community Reinvestment Act data on small-business and farm loans.

Instead, the data collection rules took effect Jan. 1, as planned.

The Consumer Bankers Association, American Bankers Association, and Bankers Roundtable all wrote to the banking agencies early last month asking for a six-month reprieve on the data collection requirement, which is part of the revised CRA rules adopted last April.

They argued that the Jan. 1 date wasn't realistic, because regulators issued the software designed to ensure uniform data collection the week before Christmas.

In a letter sent to the trade groups last Friday, the banking agencies said a delay "would likely be more disruptive than useful." They also pledged not to penalize banks and thrifts for data collection snafus the first time around.

"We're really disappointed," said James D. McLaughlin, the ABA's director of agency relations. "The difficulty is that even if they're going to be relaxed about the quality of the data, in subsequent years this data is going to be the benchmark for comparison."

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