It garnered little attention, but for dealers, the merger of DealerTrack Inc. and Credit Online is big news. DealerTrack plans to integrate directly into dealer management systems with Credit Online's technology platform.

DealerTrack streamlines auto financing by connecting dealers and lenders through the Internet.

In existence for less than two years, the company has 20,000 dealers using its system and more than thirty automotive lenders partnering with it. In January, more than 1.4 million applications were processed through DealerTrack.

The process directs applications to specific lenders based on the customer's profile. Because the system is automated, answers take seconds, no longer hours or days.

Dealers report it's easier to get deals approved with DealerTrack opposed to traditional means. But CEO and president Mark O'Neil discounts. He says, “The criteria for funding is the same, whether the dealer uses DealerTrack or sends the application by fax or mail.”

Credit Online, owned by First American Credit Management Solutions Inc. (CMSI), has existing relationships with several DMS providers, including ADP, Reynolds & Reynolds and UCS. Integration with the DMS systems eliminates the need for double-data entries in the dealership.

The merger also will increase the number of lenders available to dealers using DealerTrack. First American CMSI has developed relationships with several smaller lenders by providing them with technology solutions that would be too expensive to create on their own.

First American CEO Howard Tischler will be on the DealerTrack board. O'Neil will continue to run daily operations.