SBA launches online loan submission system

The Small Business Administration today made it easier for lenders to submit loan applications for the SBAExpress loan program, which makes up 54 percent of all agency loans to small businesses.

Lenders can now submit the applications through a secure Web portal. Eventually, vendors that supply banks with loan software will integrate the function into their applications, too, said Kevin McCall, senior adviser in SBA's Capital Access Office.

'This was a grassroots effort, and we worked with a number of lenders over the last two years to make sure we knew what works best for the community,' McCall said. 'This is one part of how we are centralizing our services to lenders.'

The E-Tran program will help do away with the more than 67,000 applications that lenders submit to SBA by fax annually, as well as improve data accuracy and consistency, he said.

Lenders must log into the system with their user names and passwords, which are checked against SBA's Partner Identification Management System. The users then fill out their applications online and submit them to SBA. The agency will review each application and make a decision almost immediately, instead of the usual 24-hour waiting period, McCall said.

SBA and a team of contractors developed E-Tran using ColdFusion from Macromedia Inc. of San Francisco. The applications are stored in a Sybase Inc. database, said Stephen Kucharski, SBA's chief of financial systems support.

The IT team also created Extensible Markup Language schemas to add to vendor software so lenders can electronically submit the applications.

'In the past, vendors created software, and lenders printed out the applications and faxed them to SBA,' Kucharski said. 'But once the lender creates the application, they submit it to SBA and the system transfers the data to us using the XML schemas.'

In fiscal 2003, the agency approved more than 74,000 loans worth more than $16.9 billion.

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