The Small Business Administration (SBA) on Tuesday said it had approved 400,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans worth $35 billion since relaunching the coronavirus relief program this month, and detailed steps it would take to fix operational glitches in the PPP's portal.
American Bankers Association (ABA) President Rob Nichols urged SBA and Treasury Department officials Monday to improve the portal after lenders reported being unable to upload applications for a second-draw loan if the forgiveness application for the borrower's first-draw loan is still pending.
The SBA said it would equip the agency's field team of lender relations specialists with information to support lenders and borrowers in understanding the issues and would provide additional guidance to PPP lenders on the review and resolution process.
In a statement Tuesday, the SBA said a review of first-draw loans identified data mismatches and eligibility concerns in about 4.7% of the lender-submitted data.
"These concerns will require follow-up between the lender and the borrower so that borrowers can access a second round of loans," the agency said.
A technical error in the new portal's user experience, meanwhile, has led the SBA not to approve a significant number of second-draw loans, Nichols wrote.
Nichols said "lenders are receiving a high number of incorrect error messages" when they try to submit applications through the portal, including messages that state incorrect limitations on second-draw loan amounts or that a borrower's first draw is under review when it is not.
"Attempts to get clarification by lenders via the portal's messaging system have been met with silence," the head of the bank trade group wrote.
Some borrowers, however, have found their second PPP experience easier than their first.
"This time around, I think we've been able to leverage technology a little bit better so that folks can utilize that portal," said Patrick Ryan, president and CEO of Hamilton, New Jersey-based First Bank. "For folks that are not sure if they want to just redo their old manual process or turn to new technology, I think there's less risk in utilizing technology this time around because the companies have had enough time to get ready."
First Bank partnered with digital lending platform Numerated for its PPP forgiveness portal, but Ryan said the community bank has kept its philosophy of assigning dedicated bankers to each applicant.
"If they're having problems with the application, problems with the website, or if they're not sure of the answers to questions or need support, everybody has a personal banker that can help them get the application submitted," Ryan said.
As of Wednesday morning, First Bank said it has submitted 500 loans totaling $90 million to the SBA during the program's current round.
"We see banks wanting to use more automation for this round to keep more of the burden off their people," Numerated CEO Dan O'Malley, told Banking Dive this month.
The SBA worked with a contractor between the end of PPP's first iteration in August and its relaunch Jan. 11 to develop a new interface for banks on the portal, Politico reported.