I Can’t Connect to E-Tran – What Now?

Kylee Wooten
April 4, 2020
Read Time: min

(This post has been updated since April 4 to include new information.)

The April 3 launch of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was met with confusion, frustration, and glitches. As a “first-come, first-served” program, small businesses scrambled to get in line. However, many of these hopeful borrowers were unable to immediately secure a loan. “While a handful were able to move forward with loans, too many strong community bankers had no access to the program as one of the promised online portals never went live today, and bankers were placed on hold for hours, unable to help the customers who were counting on them,” said Rebeca Romero- Rainey, President of ICBA, in blog post to members the day of the rollout. “This is a nightmare situation for any community banker whose mission is to help the customers and communities they serve.”

The SBA application portal, E-Tran, has been the subject of many frustrations from lenders, due to a barrage of issues.

Tioga State Bank CEO Robert Fisher told Politico on Apirl 3 that bankers were unable to access the E-Tran system, and banks appeared to be struggling to get technical support from SBA to fix the issues. "We have gotten in, and we have tested one application and gotten an approval," Fisher said. "Many bankers, however, are not even able to access E-Tran. There have been many technical issues." 

These technical problems, login confusion, and general misunderstandings about how the SBA has been resolving E-Tran issues have caused widespread frustration among bankers already dealing with borrowers frustrated that the process isn’t moving more quickly. Many financial institutions reported being unable to access E-Tran throughout the weekend, and this week, technical errors continued. On Monday, E-Tran was down for as long as four hours.

 

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Lenders say technical issues biggest PPP challenge

Bankers on an ICBA webinar Thursday continued to express frustration.

Technical issues with SBA systems, including password resets and E-Tran, are giving 29% of bankers that were on the ICBA call their greatest challenge related to PPP loans, according to a poll taken during the webinar. It was the most popular answer to the question – garnering a higher percentage of respondents than the answers “SBA PPP eligibility questions” (25%), “loan funding issues” (23%), “capital limitations” (1%), and “all of the above” (23%).

“The biggest problem we’re still having, and we really hear your frustration, is the bankers still trying to get into the system,” said Romero-Rainey. “All of us are working every channel to make it easier for bankers to access the program.”

Some issues have been as straightforward as bankers not getting password resets. One tip ICBA officials provided: Check your spam email folder for password reset emails from donotreply@sba.gov. Many bankers have missed seeing resets because the email went to spam.

Others have related to ongoing changes being made to the E-Tran system at the same time financial institutions are processing PPP applications – which causes problems for individual applications or software solutions integrated with E-Tran. Others have related to issues such as data fields in the system application that aren’t required for the PPP application.

Lenders have even struggled to access the backup application portal that the SBA announced as going live this week, said Karen Thomas, ICBA’s Senior Executive Vice President of Government Relations & Public Policy, during the webinar. The log-in screen apparently asks for an authorization number that financial institutions haven’t been given, she said.

Another issue confounding lenders when it comes time to inputting applications on E-Tran has been guidance on forms. Financial institutions for days sought guidance on whether they should use their own loan documents or the SBA Form 147, and they’ve also expressed confusion about whether they can fund loans without an authorization, since available SBA authorizations for approved loans have inaccuracies on them. For example, existing SBA authorizations for 7(a) loans include information about personal guarantees and 12-month loan terms, while the PPP loans are two-year loans with no personal guarantees. SBA on Wednesday announced that lenders could use either their own loan documents or an SBA form. SBA is planning to update the authorization form, but in the meantime, lenders should access the authorization form under the “servicing tab” of E-Tran in order to close loans, according to ICBA officials.

The SBA has continued encouraging lenders who need assistance to call its Lender Customer Service Line at 833-572-0502. Some lenders have found success reaching a live person by calling during off hours, such as early in the morning or late at night.

One frustration for users is that it’s hard to tell whether problems they’re having are due to E-Tran being “completely down” or due to some other reason, like slow bandwidth or technical errors on their end. Users of Abrigo’s Sageworks SBA Lending solution can access a message at the top of multiple screens while they are working on a PPP application to confirm or deny whether E-Tran is currently accepting submissions successfully. If E-Tran does go down, the data won’t be lost in the Abrigo solution, and users will be able to push the data as soon as E-Tran is back up.

New lenders still needing access

While the volume of applications has significantly slowed the E-Tran application process, some lenders have struggled to access to E-Tran at all. Twelve percent of the bankers on the ICBA webinar said they were not SBA 7(a) lenders prior to the PPP program, and they are still awaiting access to E-Tran or a new portal that went live this week.

Under the interim final ruling, qualified institutions will be "automatically qualified under delegated authority by the SBA" after submitting the lender agreement form, SBA Form 3506, to delegatedauthority@sba.gov to request approval as a PPP lender. According to one SBA staffer, it could take up to four days to be approved. To speed up the process, copy the email to the lender relations specialist at your district SBA office to help troubleshoot your application. Lenders will receive approval from the delegatedauthority@sba.gov address. 

Once your institution receives approval, new lenders, as well as existing SBA lenders that have not set up an E-Tran account, must be set up in the SBA's Capital Access Financial System (CAFS). Each institution must have an SBA Authorizing Official to act as the gatekeeper to SBA online access and approve all users, and then additional lenders can sign up and begin entering applications. Once the Authorizing Official is set up, additional users can sign up by following the two-stage instructions below.   

The first stage is to sign up for CAFS, and the second stage is signing up for E-Tran. It is important to note that both stages require the approval of the Authorizing Official. Below are the SBA's instructions for setting up access to CAFS and then E-Tran. 

Setting up CAFS: 

  • Go to https://caweb.sba.gov/
  • On the left side of the page under “SBA Account Login,” select “Not Enrolled.”
  • Complete all sections in the profile.
  • Under User Information, select “Partner” for user type.
  • Enter the Location ID as the “Customer Location.” The location ID is on the SBA agreement.
  • Under “Supervisor Information,” select an Authorizing Official (AO) from the dropdown.
  • You will receive an email verifying your email address. You must click the link in the email and verify your email address within 48 hours. If you do not respond within 48 hours, the request will be deleted.

After the Authorizing Official approves the user, the user must wait until he/she receives an email from cls@sba.gov to confirm the account has been approved. Then the user can move onto the second stage of signing up to set up E-Tran.

Stage 2: Set Up E-Tran Account

Setting up E-Tran: 

  • Go to https://caweb.sba.gov/cls/dsp_login.cfm and log in 
  • At the top right, select the person icon
  • Select “Request Access to CAFS Systems” and make selections shown below
  • Select “Electronic Lending- Origination (ETRAN)” 
  • Check “Update” and “View” 
  • Enter SBA Location ID in the blocks immediately below each item checked (only one box needs to be filled in)
  • If the lending institution wants the user to be able to make Servicing/Liquidation updates then select “Electronic Lending- Servicing (ETRAN)” 
  • Check “Update” and “View”
  • Enter SBA Location ID in the blocks immediately below each item checked

After submitting, you will receive an email that the account has been updated. Please note, this is not an approval for access. The E-Tran access request will be sent to the Authorizing Official for approval, and he/she will have 48 hours to approve. Following the Authorizing Official’s approval, the request then goes to SBA’s Program Office and CLS security team for approval. The user will receive an email from cls@sba.gov when the request has been approved. You will then be ready to begin E-Tran. 

If you need assistance at any point, you may contact the CLS Staff at 1-888-484-2237 or cls@sba.gov

Note:  If you are an existing approved SBA lender but have not set up a user account, please follow the set-up steps above 

If you have an E-Tran account but are unable to login, follow these troubleshooting tips:

Many lenders have executed an SBA Form 750, the Lender’s Loan Guaranty Agreement, making them SBA-certified lenders. However, some of these lenders will find that they cannot log in to E-Tran because they forgot their E-Tran credentials, or their login expired. 

If the user can log into E-Tran but can't see PPP as a loan type in the dropdown, this likely means that the lender doesn’t have the correct credentials. Any new users to an existing account must go through the CAFS security protocol to receive a user ID and password. That protocol can be found in these links:  

On April 3, the SBA began running a script to enable all lenders that previously had an account with CAFS to be automatically reactivated. If the account is not automatically reactivated following the SBA update notice, the lender may need to create a new account by following the steps outlined above.  

Lenders that need assistance accessing CAFS should call 1-833-572-0502 – hit 1 when prompted if you are already an approved SBA 7(a) lender or have submitted the Form 3506

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About the Author

Kylee Wooten

Kylee Wooten is a content marketing manager at Abrigo.

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Abrigo is a leading technology provider of compliance, credit risk, and lending solutions that community financial institutions use to manage risk and drive growth. Our software automates key processes — from anti-money laundering to fraud detection to lending solutions — empowering our customers by addressing their Enterprise Risk Management needs.

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