Bankers expect a lot when they commit to a new technology. They want the system to improve customer service, generate greater revenue opportunities, and pay for itself, if not signiWcantly reduce expenses. Few applications live up to that promise, at least right away. But Chemical Banking Corp. said the system it began using last year to rate the creditworthiness of small-business borrowers has exceeded its expectations.

Last June, the New York-based bank began to use a statistical scoring technique to assess small-business loans of up to $100,000. The system, from Fair, Isaac & Co., a pioneer in developing credit scoring systems for consumer lending, has sped up Chemical's approval cycle, enabled lenders to spend more time prospecting for new customers, and contributed to a 44% increase in small-business loan volume. Executives say that more companies are qualifying for loans now than before, and credit quality is expected to remain high.

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