Affinity Technology Group Inc., the pioneer in quick-decision consumer loan kiosks, is still struggling to stay afloat.
The Columbia, S.C., company's losses in the second quarter narrowed to $1.5 million, or 5 cents a share, from $2.5 million, or 8 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenues were $679,000, down from $1.2 million, and assets as of June 30 were $5 million - against $10.8 million a year earlier.
"That's an indication of how much time they have left," an analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of the drop in assets.
Affinity's revenues for the first six months were $1 million, against $1.5 in the first half of 1999. Its first-half loss was $3.3 million, or 11 cents per share, compared with a loss of $5 million, or 17 cents a share, in the first six months of last year.
In 1996, when Affinity raised $60 million in its initial public offering, it had high hopes for its kiosks, which were adopted early on by Bank One Corp., Mellon Bank, and Banco Popular of Puerto Rico.
But the kiosks did not bring a good return on investment for banks, and the machines lost appeal.
In January, Affinity president and chief executive officer Murray Smith resigned and the workforce was cut to 38, from 72.
Now the company is focusing on marketing its instant credit decisioning technology toward more traditional channels, such as call centers. The new approach pits it against some heavy hitters, said Diogo Teixeira, president of TowerGroup, a Needham, Mass., research firm.
"They have gone into an area where there are a lot of players with a lot of investments, and there is nothing competitive to distinguish them," Mr. Teixeira said. "This is not a start-up dot-com, where you can shrug off the revenues."
Mr. Smith's successor, Joe Boyle, said in a press release that his company's other "key priorities" are to develop multilender decisioning systems for Auto Credit Acceptance Ltd., continue deploying automated lending machines through its subsidiary, Surety Mortgage Inc., expand its patents, and examine "capital-raising alternatives."
Last week Affinity was issued a patent for the automated processing of financial accounts.
"We believe we have made solid progress in these areas," Mr. Boyle said in the release.
Affinity's stock was trading midday Friday at $0.875. It closed at $0.8125 a week earlier.
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