First Banks Inc., Creve Coeur, Mo., is consolidating its lending operations with a personal computer-based system by Formation Technologies Inc. The system automates the entire loan process, including credit application, document preparation, reporting, tracking, compliance, and booking of loans to the core banking systems.

First Banks began overhauling its technology operations in 1991 to accommodate growth fueled by mergers and acquisitions. With current assets over $2 billion, the bank predicts assets will reach $5 billion within five years.

Using the new PC-based system, the bank will be able to transmit loan files over its existing telecommunications network by using its International Business Machines Corp. AS/400. Usually banks build a separate communications network to support such PC-based applications. However, First Banks will move the data through the AS/400. then out to the branches.

Formation and Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv Inc., which is providing First Bank's core banking system, are developing interfaces and software enhancements to allow the electronic delivery of credit files to the loan software system.

Currently, each of First Banks' 82 branches throughout Missouri and Illinois use stand-alone loan systems.

When the system goes live, the branches will complete about 75% of the required loan application documentation on PCs. The documentation will then be electronically sent to First Banks' central loan processing facility in St. Louis, which will complete the documentation and approve and book the loan.

First Banks has already begun installing the system and will have all branches on-line by the end of the year.

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