“How are we going to do this?” Jacox said. “For most of these people, they have to prepare everything. Their people have to be trained. It’s not a flick. People have to know what they’re supposed to do.”
She said the timing runs the risk of putting underserved borrowers at a disadvantage if they don’t have the time to start making loans when the SBA gives them an exclusive time period. The banks are among the smallest in the country, and Congress is allocating $ 15 billion for them to provide loans. Lender representatives said they only learned of the launch date on Monday, Friday morning.
The ultimatum from small lenders was the latest complication in SBA’s implementation of the Paycheck Protection program. When the PPP opened in April, it suffered from incomplete instructions and technical glitches as the agency attempted to launch an unprecedented emergency rescue operation.
The new version reflected lessons learned by Congress and administration officials – particularly focusing on hard-hit businesses in distressed communities – but the lenders were nonetheless uncomfortable as SBA and Treasury attempted another rapid turnaround.
An SBA spokesman declined to comment. On Friday morning, the agency said it would give community-focused lenders exclusive access to PPP for much of the next week. The big banks have expected that they will not be able to start offering PPP loans until the week of January 18.
The timing made small banks feel like they would be test subjects for a revamped program that revised eligibility rules for loans and a new technology interface for receiving loan applications. Representatives of large and small lenders alike said Friday that they are still learning important details of SBA’s new loan processing system.
“I understand the desire to bring this up as quickly as possible,” said Robert James II, Head of Division, “but I’m afraid we face a real, real problem in meeting customer expectations when we have no idea what the app looks like.” The National Bankers Association, which represents minority banks. “I’m afraid we will end up being a kind of lab rat and not really be able to help our customers functionally.”
James said his bank in Savannah, Georgia has 13 full-time employees including cashiers. He said more than 80 percent of the public-private partnership loans that totaled $ 9 million last year went to black companies. He added that many borrowers from the bank need time to collect documents together, “and they don’t have a CPA when calling quickly.”
James said, “It doesn’t have to be the best.” “It is an advantage if we have a portal dedicated to us and the time we need.”
The Association of Bankers for Community Development, the group that requested more time, represented so-called Community Development Financial Institutions that serve low and middle income regions. Jacox said the largest of them has nearly 1,000 employees but some of them employ 30 to 40 people.
“More time could be of use,” Jacox said. “You can’t put down something on Friday night and expect people to be ready Monday morning.”
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