Citibank will use Affinity Technology Group's software to speed loan approvals at car dealerships and other remote locations, the software firm said.

The Citicorp subsidiary's auto finance division chose Affinity's expertLender and Decisys/RT to help expand its indirect auto lending, Affinity officials said.

"With Citibank, we will now be able to offer auto loans either at the dealer, over the Internet, in branches, or anywhere," said Jeff A. Norris, Affinity's president and chief executive officer. "We can originate or fulfill at any point."

Citibank executives were unavailable to discuss the agreement.

When the system is in place, as is expected next spring, dealers would initiate electronic loan applications on Affinity's software. The information would be sent to Citibank by a direct electronic connection; other financial institutions would receive applications by facsimile.

Affinity's decision-making system calls up a credit report and, when possible, automatically renders a decision according to pre-established criteria. Decisions on up to 60% of all loan requests are expected to be delivered in 90 seconds, an Affinity spokesman said.

The remaining 40% of loan applications would require human intervention, but Affinity's system would present the information to a loan officer using its expertLender software. Factors triggering the review might include a new job, a new apartment, or a high debt-to-income ratio.

The software highlights uncertain variables to help loan officers reach decisions in 30 minutes. The tool increases loan officer productivity by up to 300%, said John D. Rogers, senior vice president at Affinity.

Though Affinity is well known for its automated loan machines, company officials have recently emphasized a full range of "points of presence" for lenders, including call centers, retail locations, branches, and the Internet.

"There are no machines in this deal with Citibank," said analyst Christopher T. Kelley, first vice president of Nashville-based Morgan Keegan & Co. "This is automating the lending process."

"Banks have got a lot of automation on the liability side," he said. "Affinity's strategy is trying to see what kind of automation they can bring on the asset side of the balance sheet."

Citibank's non-exclusive contract with Affinity could lead it to expand its indirect lending beyond conventional auto dealerships. The bank recently agreed to market loans through agents of Colorado Springs-based Farmers Insurance Group.

Loan approvals under the current paper-based process take three hours.

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