The Small Business Administration’s new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness portal has seen more than 340,000 submissions in the first two weeks since its launch, the agency announced last week.
The SBA said it has received more than triple the number of submissions as the top 10 PPP lenders who are not participating in direct forgiveness. The agency said it is on pace to close out forgiveness for the 3.4 million direct forgiveness borrowers by the end of the year.
Lenders must opt in so borrowers can use the platform. But not all banks have. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and PNC, for example, have decided to stick with their own internal portals to process loan forgiveness, some have announced on their websites.
"Already, we've seen hundreds of thousands of borrowers navigating quickly and easily through the process, and we continue to proactively help borrowers apply through extensive outreach and webinar trainings," Patrick Kelley, associate administrator for SBA’s Office of Capital Access, said in a statement. "We encourage all lenders to opt-in to this tested portal."
The SBA said more than 1,230 lenders involved in the PPP, representing over 50% of outstanding loan forgiveness applications, have opted in to their direct borrower forgiveness portal.
The remaining 4,237 lenders, however, have yet to sign on to the program, with some instead opting to use their own internal portals.
"We have not signed on to the SBA portal since we have used our own simplified portal for several months and more than 75% of our clients have closed their cases," Bank of America spokesperson Mark Pipitone said.
Bank of America is the second-largest PPP lender for 2021, with 147,548 approved loans made this year, according to SBA data.
The bank has made 475,000 PPP loans since April 2020, according to its website.
Other smaller institutions, like First Resource Bank, have also decided not to use the SBA’s platform, citing concerns that an additional portal might complicate the process.
"We have our own portal we’ve been using with great success and do not see the need to complicate matters by adding a new method at this point," said Lauren Ranalli, president and CFO of the Pennsylvania-based $457 million-asset community bank.
Ranalli said the first round of PPP loans the bank made are fully forgiven, with the exception of three small loans. The bank is "making great progress" through the second round, she added.
Over the course of the program, many banks invested in their own portals to help speed up the approval and forgiveness process.
Customers Bank, one of the program’s most prolific lenders, built its own service to handle PPP loan origination, funding and forgiveness in an attempt to avoid some of the delays and hassles that overwhelmed many lenders last year.
The bank also made the platform available as a white-label service for other lenders, allowing them to integrate a web page that goes to Customers' portal.
The Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based bank, however, still opted to use the SBA’s platform in addition to its own.
Customers, which has made more than 320,000 PPP loans worth a total of $9.6 billion, is one of the largest lenders to opt into the SBA’s portal.
"The streamlined and efficient SBA PPP loan forgiveness portal will help borrowers and lenders move forward with economic growth and job creation following the pandemic," Sam Sidhu, president and CEO of Customers, said in a statement last month. "We encourage other lenders to join Customers Bank and opt-in to the SBA portal."
The SBA said it is proactively reaching out to borrowers and provides a pre-populated forgiveness form that they can complete in the new direct forgiveness portal via a computer or smartphone.
The agency said it takes users six minutes, on average, to submit their applications. Borrowers receive their forgiveness decisions within a week of the submission date, the SBA added.
"Of the 340,000 applications submitted through the portal, half have already been approved for full or partial forgiveness, totaling more than $2.4 billion," the SBA said.