Zions’ digital PPP loan app pays off for pandemic-racked small businesses

Zions Bancorporation built new software and bots to automate the release of federal funds under the CARES Act amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zions’ digital PPP loan app pays off for pandemic-racked small businesses
Zions Bancorporation

The COVID-19 pandemic proved bad for most businesses, but mom-and-pop shops that dot the country’s commercial landscape suffered mightily, lacking the larger coffers that helped enterprises stay afloat during the outbreak.

Utah’s Zions Bancorporation, a bank holding company that operates affiliate banks across 11 states in the western US, softened the blow by quickly digitizing the process by which small businesses could apply for federal loans offered in response to the pandemic. Through 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) helped process nearly 48,000 loans totaling $6.9 billion, according to Ken Collins, executive director of portfolio management, who oversaw the program for Zions, which manages close to $82 billion in assets.

“It was extremely critical that we offer a simple, digitized solution that allows small business customers to apply and quickly get their funds,” says Collins of the PPP, which earned a 2021 CIO 100 award for innovation.

Zions’ PPP service came in response to the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed in March 2020. The bill included the $349 billion emergency PPP loan program, in which the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued forgivable loans up to $10 million to relieve small businesses thrust into financial distress. Banks and credit unions were tasked with administering the funds at the local level.

Reimagining loan distribution with digital workflows and bots

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