Rohit Arora Speaks on the CARES Act (PPP) Application process
Is the CARES Act application process efficient?
The United States Government as part of the recent stimulus measures passed the Cares Act. The act incused a set of provisions for the stimulus of the American economy. These forms of stimulus include aid for small businesses. E-Crypto News met up with Rohit Arora and he had a few things to say about the issue. Here is what he had to say:
Rohit Arora, CEO of Biz2Credit, is one of America’s top experts in small business lending and the use of FinTech to streamline the funding process. In 2011, he was named NYC’s “Top Entrepreneur” by Crain’s New York Business, which also ranked Biz2Credit among its “Fast 50” companies. He has met with leaders from the Federal Reserve and the SBA and was invited to the White House by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors to update economists on matters related to small business lending.
Rohit oversees the widely reported Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index, a monthly analysis of loan approval rates; the Top 25 Small Business Cities in America study, the Biz2Credit Latino Lending Report; and an annual report on funding options for Women Business Owners. He is available to discuss:
- Impact of COVID-19 on small business cash flow
- CARES Act – Paycheck Protection Plan enactment
- Why banks, credit unions, and the SBA must partner with FinTechs
- Fed policy and interest rates
- How to increase your chances of securing a business loan
- Funding options for people with bad credit
- Other related topics
Rohit is a frequently quoted source on banking and technology trends by media such as The Wall St. Journal, CNBC, Fox Business, NY Times, Bloomberg, Fortune, American Banker, and others. He is a frequent speaker at top industry events, including LendIt, AltFi, and Frontiers of Digital Finance, which Biz2Credit co-sponsors with Columbia University.
Since its inception in 2007, Biz2Credit has arranged more than $2 billion in funding and has over 200,000 registered small and mid-sized company clients. The platform handles more than 5,000 new loan applications each month, on average. Prior to launching Biz2Credit, Rohit worked for Deloitte Consulting, Goldman Sachs, and Silkroute, a Singapore-based private equity fund. He holds a Master’s Degree in International Finance from Columbia University.
1. What should the Treasury have done differently as regards the Small business credit line?
The Treasury should have come out with clearer specifications around the process as well as closing documents which the lenders need to fill out to get government guarantee program. Also, the 7-week waiting period before the Treasury will give money to lenders is too long for small banks as well as non-bank lenders. Another big sore point has been lack of clarity around allowing FinTechs participate in the PPP program. This has led to lot of hardships for small business owners to apply for this program.
2. Do you think that the CARE act provides sufficient funds for the American economy?
Not yet. While the $350 billion available for small business loans sounds like a lot, already President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin are looking to add $250 billion more to the program. The losses for small businesses run in trillions of dollars. Since small business contribute over 65% of the US GDP ( around USD21 trillion) , the amount of USD350 billion is too small, which is why the Trump administration wants to up the amount.
3. How are the banks faring when it comes to giving lines of credit to small businesses at this time?
It has been a rocky start to PPP program. While banks have tried to serve their existing customer base the process is very manual and slow at the front end in terms of customer application intake. The process at the back end is very slow as banks are inputting these applications manually into the E-Trans system of the SBA and are not able to get the answers back. Also as stated above, the closing documents have not been finalized till now leading to lack of disbursement of funds to small businesses in spite of approvals.
4. Are there any other options available for small businesses to stay afloat?
Lines of credit are good options during normal times. The PPP program is very good for small business owners. The interest rate of 1% is as low as anyone could every hope to get, and the loans are forgivable. The problem now is whether banks will be able to meet the demand in a timely and efficient manner.
5. In your opinion, do you think that the Small Business Administration (SBA) can handle the problems that face small businesses at this time?
The problems we face now are unprecedented. Less than a month ago, we were riding the wave of the strongest American economy ever. Now, we have seen a stunning drop in economic activity and a rush to file unemployment claims. I’ve long maintained that the SBA is probably the most effective government agency. The challenge now is whether the agency can get the money into the hands of business owners quickly enough to save companies that are barely hanging on right now. Only time will tell. I’d like to say yes, but we are in uncharted waters right now. The key is that SBA needs to invest more in digital technologies and need to work closer with Fintech firms also. Traditionally SBA has worked only with banks and it has been slow to change itself.
6. How will the American economy recover after COVID-19?
It will take time. The good news is that the economy was fundamentally strong. Energy prices are low, the stock market had made huge gains, and many sectors, such as banking/finance and construction were booming. Some industries will clearly be hurting after this is over. I can’t see anyone rushing to sign up to go on a cruise ship anytime soon. Retail has been undergoing a transformation from brick-and-mortar to online sales. That trend has been accelerated by the Coronavirus Crisis. People – even those who liked going to retail stores to shop – are becoming accustomed to purchasing goods via the internet. I think there will be a rush back to some personal services. The customer base for spas and nail salons will return, and there are a lot of people walking around with bad haircuts who will want them fixed!
7. Are we seeing a shift from a pure capitalist-driven economy to one supported by the government from time-to-time?
I think we have always had government intervention in some form, whether it’s the auto industry or the banking industry in the last recession or the New Deal during the Great Depression. In pure capitalism, there would not be government bailouts and only the businesses strong enough to survive on their own would make it. The U.S. government is not about to allow the airline industry to fail. Travel – for both business and pleasure – is a huge industry that his hurting right now but will surely come back.
8. What should the role of government be when it comes to the economy?
I believe monetary policy is needed to make tweaks to the economy and help maintain the flow of cash to private sector businesses. I don’t believe in creating lots of bureaucratic government jobs. We have seen that the private sector is much more efficient than government-run programs. Government can and should step in to ease tension and instill confidence during times of crisis.
9. In your opinion is politics standing in the way of an effective economic rescue? If so why?
In Washington, the Democrats and Republicans fight over things that they agree upon. While the CARES Act is doing good things, there were a lot of pet projects put in the legislation, including $35 million to fund the Kennedy Center.
10 If you had a wish for the small business owner at this time, what will that wish be?
Naturally, I want to see small business owners withstand this shock. I hope that the companies that need money can get it before it is too late. After all, every business owner has his limits. There are only so many weeks a business owner will be able to keep paying employees out of his own pocket. At some point, if they don’t get enough funding at a reasonable price, they won’t be able to continue. We don’t want to see a contraction of the economy, we want to see continued expansion.