Hewlett-Packard Co. has agreed to feature automated lending technology from Affinity Technology Group in its interactive kiosks.
The announcement gives a boost to Columbia, S.C.-based Affinity, a relatively new company best known for automated loan machines, or ALMs, that can deliver loan decisions and funds in as little as 10 minutes.
The arrangement with Hewlett-Packard is part of Affinity's effort "to align some market leaders with Affinity's technology to more rapidly penetrate the market space," said Daniel R. Reed, Affinity vice president.
Formed in 1994 and publicly traded since May, Affinity has had some success in calling attention to its ALMs.
The terminals were hot items when unveiled at an industry conference two years ago, and several influential institutions, including NationsBank Corp. and Banc One Corp., have agreed to give them a try.
But now the company is trying to debunk the notion that the ALM is its main product.
Affinity's core offering actually is the decision-support system that lies at the heart of the ALM and makes possible the speedy processing of loan applications.
Known formally as Decisys/RT, the system automates everything from application processing to underwriting, documenting, and securing funds for a loan.
The system can be used to automate lending through a variety of delivery channels. Hewlett-Packard's SmartAccess interactive kiosk will be the latest.
Affinity previously agreed to offer its automated lending technology through self-service financial kiosks made by NCR Corp.
In addition, last December the company agreed with Hamilton, Ohio-based Mosler Inc. to add ALMs to an in-store bank program.
With agreements like these, "Affinity is not pinned to the success of the ALM," said Christopher T. Kelley, analyst at Memphis-based Morgan Keegan & Co.
For Hewlett-Packard, Affinity will supply an important "building block" of its kiosk product, said Fabio Fontana, a product manager who works on the interactive kiosks. Kiosks equipped with Affinity technology should be available in May, he said.
Banks in general have been slow to employ self-service banking terminals other than automated teller machines.
Mentis Corp., a bank technology research firm in Raleigh, N.C., said that fewer than 1% of all financial institutions used noncash self-service terminals at the end of 1995.
But experts said this is changing, in part due to agreements like the one between HP and Affinity which combine the best technologies from different companies in a single product.
In addition to kiosks, Affinity is looking to adapt its decision-support system'
Affinity is also looking at whether its technology could work with other retail delivery channels, such as the telephone or personal computer, Mr. Reed said.