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Software to Amp up Processing of PPP Loans

Roland Alston, Appian
April 21, 2020

New Appian app enables lenders to keep up with surge in PPP loan demand.

It's true that the government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) put lending on hold after burning through $300 billion in emergency relief funding in just two weeks.

But with stay-at-home orders putting thousands of small businesses in lockdown limbo, Congress and the administration recently replenished the PPP with $320 billion in additional funds to keep small companies afloat and workers on the payroll amid the pandemic.

Adding to the economic anxiety, with the first round of aid, banks and credit unions were plagued by outdated loan processing systems and long delays in getting relief to businesses reeling from the pandemic. The PPP didn't break loan processing systems. It just exposed what was already broken. But custom software from low-code automation provider Appian promises to amp up PPP loan processing, and help lenders do a better job of getting future rounds of coronavirus relief out the door.

The new software supports the unique loan servicing needs of small businesses and ensures lender compliance with federal PPP requirements.

The PPP loan program, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, was funded by Congress to keep small companies in business and workers on the payroll in the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The PPP is a massive and unprecedented federal program, and it is evolving on a day-to-day basis," said Michael Heffner, VP of Global Industries. "Appian's low-code automation platform gives banks the flexibility to build fast and adapt to these changes. We enable them to automate their manual and hard to manage processes, which is critically important in this current environment of distributed workers."

Heffner said that even before the pandemic, Appian Low-code Automation software was embraced by global financial services leaders such as Barclays, Credit Suisse, S&P, OCC, Santander and more to rapidly adapt to volatile market conditions and regulatory requirements.

"Don't be fooled by news reports," says Heffner. "Yes, the PPP program blew through $300 billion in just two weeks," which is equivalent to the GDP of Denmark. But that doesn't mean the program is over. It's not. It's not even close to being over.

First of all, legislation was recently passed for another $320 billion round of PPP funding."

"But beyond that," says Heffner, " PPP lenders have always had two challenges. One being the intake of funds and the other being the processing of loans. And to some degree, the processing challenge is actually more in our sweet spot because it's where the complexity is."

Heffner says that many lenders took a completely tactical approach to supporting the small business bailout program, standing up very simple mechanisms to deal with documenting loans or outsourcing the work to very small specialty vendors that focus on the intake process. But the complexities of a PPP loan, he says, can't be solved tactically.

PPP Loans: A Lifeline Amid the Pandemic

As politicians debate the scope and scale of future PPP relief, millions of small businesses are stranded in lockdown limbo. There's also a growing sense of urgency to quickly find a way to limit the spread of the coronavirus while reopening the economy bit by bit.

Will additional funding for the PPP safety net be enough? Yes and no.

Yes, if banks and credit unions are able to serve as a speedy conduit for disbursing PPP aid.

But COVID-19 exposed the weakness of outdated loan processing systems underlying the PPP crisis. Lenders just didn't have the capability to handle the massive surge of PPP aid.

Good, then, that Appian's PPP software can be deployed in just days and quickly extended with advanced automation features including robotic process automation (RPA) and AI-powered intelligent document processing (IDP) to accelerate forgivable PPP loans for the coronavirus emergency.

By the way, IDP is like optical character recognition technology on steroids. It gives lenders the capability to transform paper-based loan workflows into digital processes by scanning, classifying, and reconciling paper documents. Appian IDP also uses RPA to marshall documents and AI to read and understand them.

Appian Amps up PPP Loan Automation

5 Ways Appian Speeds PPP Aid to Small Businesses

    • Processes loan applications online, through a call center, email and or Small Business Administration (SBA) standard forms via email or paper documentation. Extract information from forms with Appian's AI-powered Intelligent Document Processing capabilities.

    • Offers loan qualification, including eligibility, document collection, and digital signature capture. Loan applications are automatically generated and submitted to SBA's E-Tran portal for SBA approval using Appian RPA bots.

    • Provides PPP application fee reimbursement with automatic data collection, packaging and submission to the SBA.

    • Easy to change: Appian PPP app can be quickly changed to meet evolving rules, reporting and compliance requirements, which helps lenders maintain federal guarantee status.

    • Provides reporting and auditing for easy visibility into loan processing, as well as ongoing compliance requirements. Supports the unique delinquency, plan modification, and forgiveness processes under the CARE Act.

Unfinished business: COVID-19 Relief

Some experts say the PPP safety net might need up to $1 trillion in overall funding, including more set-asides for under-served businesses run by women, minority, and rural business owners.

Across the political spectrum, there's broad public agreement that the nation is confronting a crisis. Two-thirds of Americans ñ including majorities in all major demographic and partisan groups ñ say COVID-19 is a "significant crisis." So says a recent Pew survey.

At a macro level, small businesses have been an engine of economic growth. There are 30.2 million small businesses in the United States. They employ 47.5% of the private workforce. Which makes it that much more important for lenders to be better prepared to process future rounds of PPP aid.

But if lenders aren't able to do that, small businesses won't be able to keep workers on the payroll in the pandemic.

"Here's the basic reality of financial services, says Heffner. "When banks get tactical, they get in trouble, full stop. Which makes our PPP software highly relevant because it will help lenders funnel future rounds of PPP funding to small businesses and do it fast."

Learn more about the Appian PPP app here.