Affinity Technology Group Inc. has received a patent for an automated loan approval process.

Affinity sells automated lending software that electronically links bank branches, call centers, Internet customers, and outside agents to a bank's central credit department.

The patent involves the use of remote connections to the Internet and local- and wide-area networks.

The company, which got a stock price boost with the patent news, also recently announced that it has started a pilot program in Sumter, S.C., with the Coldwell Banker real estate agency to test its Automated Mortgage Loan Machine.

"We believe we have a unique opportunity to prove the concept of our mortgage ALM, which has been designed to deliver point of sale service to our customers," said Sissie Childress, president of Affinity's subsidiary, Surety Mortgage Inc. "Consumers who use our ALMs will pay reduced fees as a result of cost savings associated with self-service technology."

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