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 of 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 an initial increase in small business lending activity that moderates over time and no change in the quality of the loan portfolio. Supplementary analysis suggests that the use of credit scores for small business lending has a negative initial effect on community bank profitability that moderates over time.
– Cowan, A., Berger, A. N., Frame, W. S. (2011).