A leading provider of computer outsourcing services to banks has entered new territory with the release of an Internet loan origination system. With thelendingsite.com, which supports Internet-based mortgage, credit card, and automobile lending, Fiserv Inc. is showing some of what it hopes to accomplish through a division it launched last month called e-products & services. Paul T. Danola, president of the division, which oversees on-line banking, lending, and cash management, called Internet lending "a little leading-edge for us." However, he said Fiserv "is confident with loan transaction volumes on the Internet and with what we are bringing to the table." The system, which includes an administrative tool set, loan origination software, and a customer service unit, can support lending activity through a company's own Web site or through consumer portals that aggregate lenders. Unlike other lending portals, such as the popular Lending Tree Inc., that collect loan offers from four to five lenders, thelendingsite.com's open back- end technology can house thousands, Mr. Danola said. Fiserv is also trying to solve the common Internet conundrum of retaining consumers through the point of sale, Mr. Danola said. It is forming a call center to assist in the application process and will return some indication of approval to the consumer almost immediately, he said. Thelendingsite.com allows lenders to institute their own products, fees, base rates, and risk formulas and to establish the loan types, numbers of loans, and loan characteristics that they originate. It will initially handle on-line origination for mortgages and credit cards, services for which Fiserv is seeing the greatest demand, Mr. Danola said. It will then be extended to support automobile loans and eventually commercial loans. Thelendingsite.com technology builds on the Unifi platform, Fiserv's non- Internet loan origination system, Mr. Danola said. Unifi, a Microsoft Windows- based application, will continue to be sold and supported. Though clients can opt to run thelendingsite.com in-house, Mr. Danola said Fiserv is seeing the greatest interest in it as an outsourced system. Fiserv would manage it from its Plantation, Fla., offices, which link directly to a data center. Mr. Danola declined to name the data center with which Fiserv is concluding a partnership agreement. James P. Punishill, research director at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, said, "It's about time outsourcers get into the Internet." Since most banks do not claim the Internet as a core competency, they are more apt to outsource Internet businesses, he said, creating huge potential for success for outsource suppliers. Thelendingsite.com system is planned to go into production early November with a few clients, most of which are existing Fiserv customers, Mr. Danola said. Lending counts for a "significant" portion of Fiserv's business, which brought in $1.2 billion in revenue in 1998, Mr. Danola said. In addition to loan origination, Fiserv supports mortgage servicing, auto leasing, and private-label card processing. Mr. Danola said for some clients of Fiserv's core account processing systems, lending has been built into their technology package.

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