The Dime Savings Bank of New York has leaped ahead of major New York banks like Chase and Citicorp by becoming the first New York area bank to both install automated loan machines (ALMs) and offer direct ALM service, enabling

customers to communicate directly with loan officers via video.

The Dime already has installed ten conventional ALMs in heavily trafficked areas, mostly in New York shopping malls. But the bank soon will install five others, designed by NCR Corp., that will offer direct video interaction with loan officers. And New York is only the beginning. The Dime, which recently purchased North American Mortgage Company of Tampa, with offices in more than 100 cities, hopes to eventually market consumer loans throughout the 48 contiguous states. "We want to attract a new type of customer who is looking for fast and flexible service," says Dime evp David Totaro. The ALMs also will save money. "It is more efficient when a substantial portion of loan applications can be handled without human interface and when specific loan requests can be directed to the appropriate loan officers," he explains.

Affinity Technology Group, of Columbia, SC, supplies the software and back-end decisioning systems that enables the bank to approve ALM consumer loans within minutes. "Each ALM is a 24-hour fulfillment center that also allows for merchandising where it's not practical to build a branch," says Affinity chief executive officer Jeff Norris.

Typically, according to Norris, 20 percent of ALM applications receive an absolute "Yes" and 20 percent an absolute "No." Sixty percent need the attention of a loan officer. "The cost saving is that bank officers don't touch 40 percent of the calls," says Norris.

Fast ALM service also eliminates slippage when call center customers get approved and don't pick up their paperwork. "When a bank makes up to 15,000 loan applications a month, it gains significant additional income when it increases loan fulfillments by even a few percentage points."


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