UK technology firm Zenoo (zenoo.com) has created a new solution to enable US small businesses to quickly receive essential Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the COVID-19 crisis.
The technology was created at the emergency Hackathon to Save Small Business in March, where the Alliance for Innovative Regulation (AIR) brought together over 60 people representing more than 20 banks, fintech firms, non-profit organisations and other institutions across the US and Europe
Set up as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Paycheck Protection Program is a rescue package for small businesses to stay active during the current crisis.
However, with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the US Treasury Department instructing the banks to handle all applications in a tight timeframe, the digital capabilities of the financial institutions have found it hard to cope under the unprecedented strain, leaving many desperate businesses unable to file the applications intended to keep them afloat.
The key issue has been the failure of financial instiutions to have a robust and efficient digital onboarding process which allows customers to apply for loans such as PPP without physically entering a branch.
“There are very few banks that have solved the challenge of fast and efficient digital onboarding, the impact of which we are seeing now,” said Zenoo CEO Stuart Watkins. “And even when they do have something in place, normally the tech is built in a way that is difficult to change quickly. With something like the PPP loan, where the regulation is changing daily, banks need an ability to instantly adapt and they are ill prepared.”
As the coronavirus crisis has hit US businesses hard, Zenoo has pivoted to focusing on building solutions to help them battle the effects of coronavirus among businesses and the community.
It was this understanding of how technology can overcome the challenges of COVID-19 that led to Zenoo being invited by AIR to try and solve the PPP application problem in March’s Hackathon to Save Small Business.
Watkins explained: “We were honoured to have the Alliance invite us to the Hackathon as we have so much respect for the work they’re doing to protect and empower small business - something we are equally passionate about.”
Zenoo worked three days and two nights on the challenge and successfully created a solution to address the crucial issue of digital onboarding of PPP applicants at mass scale with speed.
Jo Ann Barefoot, CEO and co-founder of AIR, said: “We were so pleased that Zenoo participated in the Hackathon and has followed up with a working solution to help address the small business crisis.”
Zenoo’s ability to problem solve when it comes to digital onboarding was born four years ago when the leadership team set about assembling a group of experts from around the world to build the next generation of digital onboarding platform.
The company set a high bar for their technology Dream Team, hiring only developers, designers and product managers who were are at the top of their game and had extensive experience building digital onboarding solutions.
From there the company philosophy is key - solid technology, built by exceptional people with a single mission. This means highly motivated and laser-focused cross-functional teams with individuals given the freedom to create.
Watkins added: “There are many companies talking about solutions, but none of them have come forward with an actual solution - we have. Zenoo always knew this need would become mission critical , but no one could have ever anticipated how. This is a very strong message that digital transformation has to happen right now.”