Small businesses, already hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, can't seem to catch a break.
On the first day of the reopened Paycheck Protection Program, a key lifeline from Congress, banks are reporting that the Small Business Administration's portal is not working.
Bankers told NPR on Monday that the system, known as E-Tran, would not allow them to enter loan application information that is needed for small businesses to access the program.
"We have been attempting to access E-Tran since 10:30 and have had no luck," said Maria Amoruso, chief marketing officer at Pennsylvania's NexTier Bank, in a midday message to NPR.
Amoruso said her bank had 13 small business loan applications ready on Monday morning. As of midday, her team had only been able to get one loan entered into the system.
"We worked through the weekend to ensure our loans were ready to go," she added.
This is just the latest issue with the small business loan program. It has come under intense criticism for multiple reasons — large banks received $10 billion of the processing fees and there were complaints about loan money going to big businesses or to preferred customers of big banks.
The federal government restarted the emergency loan program on Monday with $321 billion in funds. The Paycheck Protection Program first opened on April 3 with $349 billion — a pot of money that ran out in 13 days.
Rob Nichols, CEO and president of the American Bankers Association, a trade group that represents banks of all sizes, tweeted angrily about the E-Tran problems Monday morning.
"Our member banks across the country are deeply frustrated at their inability to access @SBAgov's E-Tran system," he tweeted. "We have raised these issues at the highest levels. Until they are resolved, #AmericasBanks will not be able [to] help more struggling small businesses."
Our member banks across the country are deeply frustrated at their inability to access @SBAGov's E-Tran system. We have raised these issues at the highest levels. Until they are resolved, #AmericasBanks will not be able help more struggling small businesses.— Rob Nichols (@BankersPrez) April 27, 2020
The SBA did not respond immediately to a request for comment.