The use of technology in the mortgage industry has long lagged its adoption in other financial-services business. Now, however, it is showing signs of catching up. Two clues: spending on mortgage technology continues to accelerate; and vendors are rushing into the vast marketplace.

The entry into the market by numerous software and service providers, some of which are adapting existing capabilities to mortgage-related applications, has been intensive.

Witness these developments.

United Parcel Service of America Inc. is offering secure on-line document delivery and targeting mortgage companies among its many prospects. The offering is an effort to wean companies from overnight shipping of documents, which takes more time and costs more money. In addition to text, it can deliver video and audio messages.

Calyx Software of San Jose, Calif., has expanded the capability of its loan origination program to include network access to a large variety of vendors of mortgage-related information.

Arc Systems of Austin, Tex., is offering automated underwriting of subprime and other nonconforming loans and has licensed it to mortgage.com Inc. The licensee, formerly known as First Mortgage Network, will offer the capability to its own retail customers as well as wholesaling it to other lenders as a private-label service, for cobranding, and for membership services.

Neuron Data of Mountain View, Calif., has provided what it calls a major lending institution with a business-rules system that interfaces with a loan-origination system, helping to speed approval of loan applications. The system allows the rules to be changed easily by users rather than technicians.

Atlanta-based UPS announced that it had made agreements with several leading technology providers, including Adobe Systems Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., MindSpring Enterprises Inc., and VeriSign Inc. to expand access channels and enable the use of the Internet.

Arc says visitors to mortgage.com's Web site will be able to get approvals of their subprime or jumbo loans in 30 seconds. Mortgage.com also plans to build a new Web site that informs customers about credit alternatives, grades, and rates, and will use the Arc engine to drive the approval capability.

At both sites, mortgage.com's own rules-based and automated-underwriting standards will be embedded in the Arc system.

Calyx said more than 27 mortgage-service companies had signed up to be included on the network accessed by its loan origination software.

UPS is not alone in offering secure on-line document delivery. Pitney Bowes and e-Parcel are also offering the service, and Compaq, Microsoft, and Ogilvy & Mather are using or offering document delivery software. One major obstacle to wider use of secure Internet transmissions is the question of legality of signatures, something industry sources believe will be resolved in time.

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