Fiserv Orlando is offering an unusual feature to users of its mortgage servicing software: the ability to accept credit card payments.

The company, a unit of Fiserv Inc., where?, has only one user of the add-on software so far, but has received many indications of interest, the company said.

Because of the cost of using credit cards, the service appears to be of little interest to conventional lenders. But the feature could be useful to subprime lenders in their aggressive collection efforts.

And the appeal could be strong for companies with foreign borrowers. Because of the high cost and long collection time involved in dealing with foreign bank drafts, the use of credit cards by foreigners could be cost- effective.

The one present user, Blue and Green Corp., is a resort and time-share company in Boca Raton, Fla. A spokesman said it found the need for the capability because it had many foreign customers whose home countries were unfriendly to the idea of cash or checks going out of the country. So the medium of exchange became credit cards.

"The advantage is that the transfer of funds occurs transparently for them because it takes place electronically and automatically," said Louise Suire, marketing director for Fiserv Orlando's LoanServ product.

Fiserv is now operating the system, a kind of automated clearing house, on behalf of Blue and Green as part of its Loanserv servicing package.

On the originations side, Fiserv Orlando has signed up more than 50 new users of its Windows-based easyLender software, bringing the total to about 100 since the program was introduced last year.

The originations software market is highly fragmented, with perhaps a dozen companies vying for share and none of them a dominant force. The versatility and simplified training of Windows-based programs has been a big selling point for some of the competitors.

David Lebowitz, principal of SSP Associates, Chevy Chase, Md., and co- author of the prestigious Mortech survey, said Fiserv is now the second- largest originations software vendor, with a market share of about 12%. Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv Inc. acquired FIS, now Fiserv Orlando, last year. The parent company also has an originations capability that it targets to larger lenders.

A Fiserv report says the new clients range from First Federal Bank, a $1.1 billion-asset thrift in Swansea, Mass., to Metro Community Bank, a new $25 million-asset thrift in Minneapolis.

Metro appears to have begun life as a high-tech thrift. "Networking is very important to us," said Mark Jones, executive vice president. "It's vital that all our programs run on Windows, and that our information must be easily accessible. We don't want a stand-alone mortgage system that runs on just a few workstations."

Fiserv Orlando also offers information processing services for private- label credit card programs. It says it recently signed Orchard Supply Hardware of San Jose, Calif., as a user. The company has 69 retail stores in California and 10 in Ohio. It was recently acquired by Sears Roebuck & Co.

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