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When you have to shift your operational plans in a hurry, it’s important to have a partner who understands your needs and those of your customers. Certainly, we can say that we witnessed this first-hand as community banks ramped up to offer loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.
Launching a new lending initiative during a pandemic was a challenge in itself, but add in closed branches, remote customers, and government provisions, and community banks faced a trifecta of issues in entering this brave new world of lending. I’ve previously shared how banks stepped up and reimagined their programs, but how they made the transition is also important. In many cases, it was with perseverance, creative thinking, and a lot of sweat equity, but finding a fitting technology provider also played a role.
ThinkTECH alumni like Lendsmart, which offers an end-to-end loan-processing solution, Teslar, which offers an automated workflow to efficiently collect and manage documents, and Botdoc, which provides secure digital document transport, have put in the time to understand how community banks work and meet the needs of their customers.
When $353 million-asset Community First Bank, in Kennewick, Wash., was faced with digitally and securely collecting documentation—including Social Security numbers, payroll reports, employer identification numbers, and other sensitive information to process PPP loans—they wanted a technology provider to make it frictionless. In short, they were looking for a straightforward process—one that would not require the logins, passwords, and headaches secure email created, and would alleviate stress for their already tapped-out customers.
“Our technology solutions are designed to simplify processes and create connections,” said Craig Scott, vice president of IT. “We see our digital channels as an important part of the customer relationship, so making it a good experience remains a priority.”
That’s where ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator alumni Botdoc came in. On Monday, March 30, Community First Bank entered into an agreement with Botdoc for secure document collection. By Wednesday, April 1, the bank was onboarded, and on Thursday, April 2, they were prepping PPP loans for their customers with information submitted via Botdoc. So far, Community First Bank has collected background for more than 500 PPP loans via Botdoc. Having used secure email for such collection in the past, they were accustomed to extensive customer service and technical support queries, but this time around there’s a noticeable absence of such calls.
“It’s a testament to the ease of use,” said Karl Falk, founder and CEO of Botdoc. “We’ve made it secure and convenient, and convenience and security have never lived in the same sentence before.”
Now, as we enter the loan-forgiveness phase, Botdoc has been noticing new accounts popping up around this effort. Community banks are centralizing the intake of their payroll documents using a general email inbox, like [email protected], enabling broader staff access. From there, the specific client is assigned out to individual bank staffers to align client forgiveness documentation with loans and identify outstanding needs.
This example illustrates how technology can be swiftly adopted to meet today’s real-world needs. As community banks consider solutions that support the PPP loan-forgiveness process, ICBA is helping to make those connections through initiatives like our PPP Tech Loan Forgiveness Solutions Sprint and our follow-up showcase on June 10.
As we continue to work to bring the right digital solutions to our customers, finding the appropriate partner remains a critical piece of the puzzle. Falk sums it up best.
“We’re providing the digital extension to the human relationship that is so important for community banking,” he concludes. “What secure digital transport enables is the ability to transact business digitally just as if the person was sitting on the other side of the table.”
Charles Potts is ICBA Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer.