The launch of the PPP was a whirlwind, with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) authorizing the program signed on May 27, and the final guidance of the program issued just hours before the April 3 opening day of borrower applications.
“We’re talking seven, eight days of 18 hour days or longer of developers code binging – with people not seeing their families for days even though they were sheltering at home, and companies offering online resources and training to help them accelerate (financial institutions’) embrace of the digitalization of the PPP storm,” O’Connell noted.
In this all-hands-on-deck development environment, the earliest PPP solutions primarily were built upon existing solutions for SBA 7(a) loans, according to the Aite Group’s findings. For example, Abrigo modified its existing Sageworks SBA Lending solution to handle the Paycheck Protection Program requirements. It modified existing forms, like the SBA Form 1919 borrower application for 7(a) loans to accommodate PPP requirements and created the SBA Form 2483 borrower application, including a loan calculator.
Aite noted that the longer a vendor had been working with the SBA in general and with E-Tran, the SBA’s application portal, in particular, the more value it could deliver by virtue of its deep technological knowledge of the E-Tran system.
“During the first round of PPP funding, which was initiated on April 3, 2020, E-Tran was overwhelmed and shut down on several occasions,” the report said. “It was the vendors with the longest incumbency on the system that were able to provide their lenders with the in-system data needed to troubleshoot loans—on an application-by-application basis.”
By the second round of PPP funding, Abrigo’s market-tested SBA solution had also enabled a new “quick submit” functionality that allowed lenders to submit multiple applications rapidly through E-Tran to accommodate those that had queued up completed applications while waiting for additional funding.
In addition to onboarding and E-Tran, other “table stakes” functionalities of various PPP solutions that Aite discussed in the report included:
- Online loan applications
- PPP-specific portals that created a “digital storefront” for outreach, applications, and document exchange
- URLs customized for each applicant
- Proactive outreach capabilities to keep customers informed with the status of their application
- Legal support to anticipate changing legislation and provide guidance to create modifications within the solution
- Electronic signature for digitized (and social distancing-approved) borrower interactions