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Working Paper

The surprising use of credit scoring in small business lending by community banks and the attendant effects on credit availability and risk


Abstract: The literature has documented a positive relationship between the use of credit scoring for small business loans and small business credit availability, broadly defined. However, this literature is hampered by the fact that all of the studies are based on a single 1998 survey of the very largest U.S. banking organizations. This paper addresses a number of deficiencies in the extant literature by employing data from a new survey on the use of credit scoring in small business lending, primarily by community banks. The survey evidence suggests that the use of credit scores in small business lending by community banks is surprisingly widespread. Moreover, the scores employed tend to be the consumer credit scores of the small business owners rather than the more encompassing small business credit scores that include data on the firms as well as on the owners. Our empirical analysis suggests that credit scoring is associated with increased small business lending after a learning period, with no material change in the quality of the loan portfolio. However, these quantity and quality results appear to vary depending on the way in which credit scores are implemented in the underwriting process.

Keywords: small business finance; Credit ratings; Community banks; Risk;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Part of Series: FRB Atlanta Working Paper

Publication Date: 2009

Number: 2009-09