ATLANTA - An on-line geocoding service introduced by Equifax Inc. is designed to give banks immediate access to their borrowers' geographic information.

Geo-code is meant to help banks comply with the Community Reinvestment Act by allowing them to monitor the location of their loans. The act requires banks to spread loans throughout communities without discriminating.

The service "gives financial institutions the tools they need to make sure of their lending activities in areas where they are receiving deposits," said Carl Fischer, assistant vice president for product development at Equifax.

The geographic address information in Geo-code is assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau on every piece of property. It is then coded into a 16-digit number that includes the state code, the county code, the Census tract, the block group, the enumerated district, and the code for the standard metropolitan statistical area.

Equifax said its service cuts to seconds the time needed to obtain this information. Many banks now send tapes of their recent lending activity to Equifax or another processor, which sorts the data and returns it - a process that can take a week.

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