Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. has promoted R.K. Arnold to president.

The company, which operates the electronic registry of mortgage ownership rights known as Mers, had been searching for a successor to Paul Mullings since November, when the then-president left to join Chase Manhattan Mortgage.

Mr. Arnold joined the company in 1996 as general counsel and was promoted to executive vice president last year. He was responsible for obtaining approval from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to have the Mers name listed as an original mortgagee on mortgage documents.

Before joining Mers, Mr. Arnold worked at AT&T Universal Card Services. He has also held legal posts at USAA Federal Bank and Liberty National Bank.

Mr. Arnold said a major goal for the near future is to make it easier for companies to get up and running on the system. In the longer term, he said, the intent is for Mers to be the central tracking system for all participants in the mortgage industry.

"Ultimately, it would be nice to see the virtual elimination of paper in the mortgage industry all the way up to the closing itself," Mr. Arnold said.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems also hired Carson Mullen to be executive vice president of sales, marketing, and operations. Mr. Mullen had been president and chief executive officer of Wasatch Document Systems and, before that, vice president of national accounts at MGIC Investment Corp.

Mr. Mullen said at the Mortgage Bankers Association of America conference for senior executives in New York last week that the company is gaining acceptance in the industry.

"Lenders are finding that Mers is not a 'nice to have' but a 'have to have,'" Mr. Mullen said.

The company is owned by a consortium of lenders, mortgage insurers, and other mortgage-related companies.

Mers has signed up 154 companies as clients. Mr. Mullen said membership could balloon to the thousands once smaller correspondents begin to sign on.

To that end, he said, Norwest Mortgage, the nation's largest lender and one of the first to begin using Mers, has begun sending letters to its correspondents about signing up with Mers.

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