Banks Use Software Bots to Process Surge of Pandemic-Related Loans

Tom Zernick, president of the SBA lending division at First Home Bank in St. Petersburg, Fla., says the bank has processed more than 6,000 loans under the program since April, compared with around 1,000 SBA loans in a typical year.

To cope, the bank turned to robotic-software tools developed by Blue Prism Group PLC that can extract data from loan applications and create a database with preloaded file information, he said. The tool handles underwriting, calculates loan amounts, and prepares documents for clients, he said. Bank employees then double-check the paperwork.

He said the tools took roughly a week to get installed and by April 10 began processing loan applications: “Things are moving amazingly fast.”

The custom-made bot can monitor incoming applications from online forms or email, check the data to ensure it conforms to PPP regulations, flag any issues to loan officers and provide underwriting, among other functions, Mr. Mazza said.

According to Blue Prism, the tool is being used by multiple large and midsize U.S. banks authorized to offer PPP loans, which combined have over $600 billion in assets.

UiPath Inc., says its robotic software completes in 14 days PPP processing that would take a banker 14 years, said Amit Kumar, who leads the company’s global banking practice.

He said one of its banking customers has saved some 20,000 hours of manual processing time on its small-business loan applications under the program. At least 22 banks are using the company’s RPA tool to process PPP loans, Mr. Kumar said, ranging from large global lenders to regional banks and credit unions.

Automation Anywhere, another player in the RPA market, has developed a PPP bot that has helped banks and other lenders process “thousands of loan applications,” the company said in a statement.

John Steinmetz, chief executive of Vista Bank, a Texas-based lender that operates a network of 15 branches across the state, called Automation Anywhere’s bot a “game-changer.” The managing and moving of data between its community banks and the SBA application portal is getting faster, he said.

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