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Hardening Soft Information: How Far Has Technology Taken Us?

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We explore the boundaries of soft information by investigating whether soft information can be “hardened” in commercial loan underwriting such that it can be communicated across the hierarchical layers of a large bank. We use data from a large European bank containing granular loan-level information on the credit score building process and loan approval decisions. Like other banks, soft information is injected into the scoring process at several points. We find that credit scoring technology does not eliminate the barriers to soft information communication within a banking organization. We also find that firms applying to distantly located branches receive a lower amount of credit than firms with the same score applying to branches closer to the bank office with final approval authority, especially if the final score incorporates positive soft information. Our findings confirm the persistence of spatially-based organizational frictions even in the context of a modern credit-scoring based lending technology.

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  • Stefano Filomeni & Gregory F. Udell & Alberto Zazzaro, 2016. "Hardening Soft Information: How Far Has Technology Taken Us?," CSEF Working Papers 455, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:455
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    Cited by:

    1. Porzio, Claudio & Sampagnaro, Gabriele & Verdoliva, Vincenzo, 2020. "Lost in Translation: The determinants and the effect of soft information dispersion in bank lending," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 43(C).
    2. Ferri, Giovanni & Murro, Pierluigi & Peruzzi, Valentina & Rotondi, Zeno, 2019. "Bank lending technologies and credit availability in Europe: What can we learn from the crisis?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 128-148.
    3. Bellucci, Andrea & Borisov, Alexander & Giombini, Germana & Zazzaro, Alberto, 2019. "Collateralization and distance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 205-217.
    4. Pietro Alessandrini & Michele Fratianni & Luca Papi & Alberto Zazzaro, 2016. "Banks, Regions and Development After the Crisis and Under the New Regulatory System," Credit and Capital Markets, Credit and Capital Markets, vol. 49(4), pages 535-561.
    5. Franz Flögel & Marius Beckamp, 2020. "Will FinTech make regional banks superfluous for small firm finance? Observations from soft information‐based lending in Germany," Economic Notes, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, vol. 49(2), July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Credit scoring; communication problems; bank organization; loan officer discretion;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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