The volume of online wholesale mortgage lending exceeded that of online retail lending by nearly three to one in 2004, according to TowerGroup, a financial services research and consulting firm based in Needham, Mass.Online wholesale lending grew from 15.0% of total mortgage origination in 2001 to 20.5% last year, while retail online lending rose from 3.5% to 7.3% during the same period, TowerGroup said. The systems that support online wholesale lending -- such as website hosting, loan product and price management, and third-party settlement services -- "have become mission-critical for virtually all wholesale lenders, regardless of size," the company said. A new report by TowerGroup, "Wholesale Mortgage Lending: Online Lending Adoption, Lender Segments and Technology," looks at the growth of online lending and analyzes wholesale lending segments by lender size and product type. The company can be found online at http://www.towergroup.com.

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