In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to address the economic fallout of stay-at-home orders across the nation. As part of CARES, Congress set up a new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for affected small businesses.

PPP initially authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the crisis. With the total number of loans exceeding 1.6 million, those funds were soon exhausted, and Congress allocated an additional $310 billion in PPP funds a short time later.

U.S. banks had to gear up quickly to begin processing PPP loans, including a large regional bank in the southeast, which turned to CGI for help.

Handling an extremely high volume of PPP loans

Prior to the launch of PPP, this bank’s current infrastructure handled the typical small volumes associated with U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Its system was built to process approximately 25 loans per month, with each loan submitted manually to the SBA’s E-Tran website.

Once the PPP took effect, an extremely high volume of loan applications inundated the bank. To handle the volume, it needed to implement an automated loan submission process—and fast.

Implementing robotic process automation

CGI stepped in to address the bank’s challenge using robotic process automation (RPA). Our team developed three RPA bots that automatically pull loan applications into a queue, validate the loan data, and submit the loan applications into the SBA E-Tran site.

The RPA solution’s validation process cleanses loan data and/or identifies errors, allowing reprocessing of loan applications until they are submitted to the E-Tran site successfully. During CGI’s work, the E-Tran site experienced performance issues and SBA guidance was changing by the day. However, the team responded by making ongoing changes to the solution to ensure successful loan submission. It also ensured the solution protected customer data by complying with privacy, security and regulatory compliance standards mandated by the bank.

Processing tens of thousands of loans successfully

With CGI’s RPA solution, the bank’s E-Tran submission process went from taking 30-60 minutes per loan to less than 5 minutes. It also achieved a 90% success rate for loan submissions (compared to an average 50%-60% success rate among its competitors).

Further, the bank was able to submit 54,000 loan applications successfully, totaling $7 billion, with another 20,000 loans in the queue for processing.

Through its collaboration with CGI and use of RPA, the bank has not only effectively addressed a huge COVID-19 business challenge, but also significantly strengthened its loan processing capabilities for the future. CGI is helping it to respond, rebound and reinvent in the face of COVID-19 and come out ahead.