The Dime Savings Bank of New York is launching a new technology initiative designed to improve product sales and greatly extend its marketing capacity. The new technology strategy by the nation's sixth- largest publicly traded thrift complements a plan to increase the bank's market share nationally.

In addition to 85 branches in New York, New Jersey and on Long Island, Dime has a branch in Florida and a mortgage lending presence in 12 states. It has just launched a national consumer lending program and hopes to eventually market consumer loans throughout the 48 contiguous states. "We want to deliver our products and services to customers in any way that they choose, at any time in a 24-hour day, and in any way they choose to access the bank, including by computer," says Dime evp David Totaro. "We're in a win-win situation. Our customers are demanding more access to their accounts, and the systems that will enable us to give it to them should cut expenses and improve profitability."

Joining Dime on its trek across the electronic frontier are Affinity Technology Group, based in Columbia, SC, and Broadway & Seymour, based in Charlotte, NC. Affinity will supply back-end decision support systems that will enable the bank to approve consumer loans faster, and Broadway & Seymour will supply a software interface to the Affinity system so that customers can communicate with all bank contact points by telephone, ATM and PC. In the next few months, Affinity will also set up 15 automated loan machines (ALMs) in a single market test area. "We're gong to take loan application data and render a decision within minutes," says John Rogers, Affinity's COO. "Even at an ALM, we can do a credit history, fraud check and render a positive or negative decision before a customer gets the chance to go to another bank."

Dime is cautious about revealing too much information about the project before it delivers new products to customers. But one thing is certain: It will soon have the technology to sell virtually any bank product nationwide by ALM, kiosk and PC.

-peterson tfn.com

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