New FIS Portal Automates Loan Forgiveness Process for Small Businesses Under Paycheck Protection Program

FIS | May 14, 2020

With the second phase of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) well underway as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, thousands of small businesses and merchants across America will soon be turning their attention to seeking forgiveness of loans they have borrowed through the historic lending relief program.
Financial services technology leader FIS ™ (NYSE: FIS) today announced a new portal for use by participating businesses to streamline and simplify the complex process of applying for loan forgiveness. Available to all financial institutions and merchants that have participated in the PPP, the portal leverages the FIS Real-Time Lending Platform to automate the full PPP loan forgiveness process from application through approval.
In order for loans to be forgiven, the Small Business Administration (SBA) requires that recipients provide detailed evidence that loans were used to cover payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the eight-week period after the loan was provided, and that stipulated employee payroll levels have been maintained.
FIS’ loan forgiveness portal enables both borrowers and banks to initiate the forgiveness process quickly and easily through pre-filled applications and documentation uploads. The platform is fully digital and requires minimal setup for banks, who can implement the process by uploading a file of eligible loans with existing PPP customers.

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We recently caught up with one of our clients HIT Ltd to discuss how SmartPA has transformed their business practices. It's been a pleasure to provide call handling and admin support to HIT over the past year - here's their founder Euan Bowen to tell us about their experience.


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BUSINESS STRATEGY

American Express and TikTok Launch the #ShopSmall Accelerator to Help Small Businesses Reach New Audiences on Small Business Saturday

American Express | November 15, 2022

American Express today announced that it has partnered with TikTok to launch the #ShopSmall Accelerator, a new program to help small business owners reach a new generation of shoppers on Small Business Saturday, which is on November 26, 2022, and runs throughout the holiday shopping season. The partnership with TikTok builds on the ongoing support American Express provides small businesses year-round and its goal to drive $100 billion in reported consumer spending at small businesses from 2021 through 2025. Starting November 14, the #ShopSmall Accelerator will include an offer for eligible small business owners to earn a $100 TikTok advertising credit*. In addition, small business owners will be given access to tools and resources to think like TikTok creators, including a tutorial at AmericanExpress.com/ShopSmallAccelerator on how their businesses can stand out on the platform. Lifestyle creators Anna Sitar @annaxsitar and Sofia Bella @iamsofiabella, along with small business owner Brandon Blackwood @brandonblackwoodnyc, will teach small business owners how to use TikTok as a search engine; leverage sounds, trends, hashtags and communities; and how to drive engagement with users. To help small businesses get discovered by new audiences, American Express has also partnered with musical artist Chlöe Bailey @chloebaileywashere to create a “Shop Small Soundtrack,” which TikTok users can add to their content. “The #ShopSmall Accelerator will help give small merchants the tools they need to reach the next generation of consumers on TikTok, where our Shop Small Impact Study found that 67% of Gen Z users have shopped from a small business that was displayed on their For You Page ,Shopping small has a significant impact on helping local communities, with two-thirds of every dollar spent at small businesses staying within the local community. Last year, consumers reported spending more than $23B shopping small on Small Business Saturday, and we want to exceed that in 2022.” Elizabeth Rutledge, Chief Marketing Officer, American Express "More and more American small businesses are turning to TikTok to take us inside their world in a fun authentic way, and as a result, they are reaching new customers, hiring more employees and growing their business. The real world impact is undeniable, with 44% of TikTok users saying that they discovered something on the platform and immediately went out to buy it, according to our Global Retail Path To Purchase Study," said Sofia Hernandez, Global Head of Business Marketing for TikTok. "This holiday season, the TikTok community is ready to #ShopSmall and support small businesses. Based on data in the Small Business Economic Impact Study from American Express, if every Gen Z and Millennial shopper spent $10 at a small business on Small Business Saturday, it would support $2 billion in local economic activity throughout the US.2 The study also found that $0.68 of every dollar spent at a small business in the US stays in the local community and that every dollar spent at small businesses creates an additional $0.48 in local business activity as a result of employees and local businesses purchasing local goods and services. 63% of small business owners said they want to grow their Gen Z and Millennial customer base this holiday season, and 50% agreed that Small Business Saturday is more critical than ever for their business this holiday shopping season. Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 to help small businesses and communities thrive. Since then, it has turned into a nationwide Shop Small movement that is celebrated annually and is critical for small businesses during the holiday shopping season. American Express provides ongoing support to small businesses year-round through the Shop Small Resource Hub where small business owners have access to complimentary marketing supplies and resources; Amex Offers for Merchants for services ranging from technology to shipping solutions; a new, dedicated Small Business Saturday page from Business Class, featuring insights, tips, and inspiration; and more. U.S. consumers can find American Express accepting independent retailers across the nation through the Shop Small Map and Card Members can access special Amex Offers from Small Merchants on the Shop Small Offer Hub here. ABOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.

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SMALL BUSINESS ADVICE

Outreach Team Selected to Support Local Small Businesses

Community Business Connector | October 07, 2022

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Port of Seattle, and King County announced today that seven community organizations would serve local small businesses through the Community Business Connector (CBC) program These organizations, identified as Connectors, will serve small businesses in five geographic hubs in King County through a targeted outreach program. Connectors will provide access to available business resources to help them sustain and grow their enterprises. A review panel selected the Connector finalist following a competitive application process. Seven connectors, in the first phase of this pilot program, will ease the way for small businesses across King County to connect with advisors and access resources for business recovery. Connectors will receive a one-time funding award from $30,000 to $40,000 over 12 months as part of the pilot program. Those selected include the following. Lake City Collective OneEastside Spark Growing Contigo, LLC International Rescue Committee Indian American Community Services Kent Chamber of Commerce SnoValley Chamber The Chamber's team of Connectors utilizes an online ticket system to connect with business owners directly. Connectors provide referral options to lenders, small business development centers, and other helpful resources. The Port of Seattle invested $650,000 in community-based partnerships to open doors for ethnic businesses that anchor our communities and neighborhoods, Port of Seattle Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed. "Helping small companies tap resources is vital as the region grows amid uncertain economic conditions locally and globally. Connectors will make the region's small business support ecosystem more accommodating and inclusive by building relationships with businesses facing challenges due to linguistic, cultural, and geographic barriers. "Companies owned by people of color, and those based in rural communities have faced higher barriers to accessing capital, receiving state and local relief funding, and pivoting to online sales ,We are committing $500,000 from King County COVID-19 Local Recovery Funds to ensure that small businesses throughout King County can get the direct support and resources they need " Seattle Metro Chamber CEO Rachel Smith

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FINANCE, SMALL BUSINESS ADVICE

Valley Bank Launches Community Lending Platform

Valley Bank | September 09, 2022

Valley National Bank today announced the launch of a Community Lending platform to streamline processing as it ramps up its efforts to provide more financial products, resources and connections to women and minority-owned businesses. In 2021, Valley made more than 6,181 small business loans in low-to-moderate-income census tracts and to businesses with a gross annual revenue of $1 million or less. Valley’s Community Lending Team, which focuses specifically on providing financing solutions to women and minority-owned small businesses within this space, quickly realized the need for a separate platform to organize the program across the Bank’s four states. This new platform makes the application and lending process much easier and faster by reducing a great deal of paperwork that would normally take weeks to process. The new platform offers women and minority-owned businesses easier access to traditional products such as payroll, commercial mortgages and merchant services, while also looking at qualifications for loans with a different lens. Instead of just considering traditional requirements related to cash flow and having three years of business history, the bank is also considering personal and business credit scores. Under the leadership of National Director of Community Lending Thais R. Sullivan, the department now consists of 15 dedicated professionals and reaches across Valley Bank’s U.S. footprint from New York south through Florida, into underserved communities where businesses often don’t qualify for traditional lending. “The Community Lending team is committed to looking at financing for these small businesses differently,” said Sullivan. “We examine their growth potential rather than their current size to determine how we can help drive long-term growth. The launch of this platform will help us as we help small businesses along the path to growth and future success.” Sullivan and her team of experienced professionals worked to create the products, resources and relationships to ensure the Community Lending team could provide timely access to the crucial elements to help businesses in need. The regional leaders for Community Lending are: Luis De La Hoz, Regional Director of Community Lending New Jersey Martine Pierre-Paul, Regional Director of Community Lending Florida/Alabama Michael Warrington, Regional Director of Community Lending New York “During the pandemic we became painfully aware how many businesses weren’t in a position to qualify for emergency funding programs like the Paycheck Protection Program,” said Sullivan. “Minority-owned businesses in particular were less likely to apply, not because they didn’t need the funding, but because they weren’t set up to qualify.” With a lack of professional relationships or experienced mentors that could help find paths to financing, many small business owners lacked the vital documentation needed to obtain a traditional loan. In addition to providing access to its own banking products and services, Valley Bank’s Community Lending solutions include leveraging strong partnerships with national and regional organizations that can provide additional education, mentorship and financing resources. These organizations include such groups as the Small Business Administration (SBA), Palm Beach County Black Business Investment Corporation (BBIC), and National Entrepreneurship Association (NEC). Valley Bank’s Community Lending team members have been working with underserved small businesses for more than two years to create custom financial solutions that make a difference. As two examples: Juan Garay, a disabled veteran and president of Facility Services Solutions Group in Edison, New Jersey, first turned to Valley Bank in 2020. “Valley helped to connect us with loans and grant opportunities,” Garay said, “and guided us in certifying our organization as a Disabled Veteran Owned Business, Minority Business Enterprise and Small Business Enterprise.” Dr. Angie Mason, DPT, OTR/L and Dr. Tyre Patterson, DPT were struggling to get financing for their startup business Dynamic Duo PT+ in West Palm Beach, Florida, despite having over a decade of experience in their field. “Valley Bank provided us real financial guidance and connected us to other professionals we needed to help our business thrive,” said Dr. Angie Mason. “We opened the doors to our office in May of this year.” About Valley As the principal subsidiary of Valley National Bancorp, Valley National Bank is a regional bank with approximately $54 billion in assets. Valley is committed to giving people and businesses the power to succeed. Valley operates many convenient branch locations across New Jersey, New York, Florida and Alabama, and is committed to providing the most convenient service, the latest innovations and an experienced and knowledgeable team dedicated to meeting customer needs. Helping communities grow and prosper is the heart of Valley’s corporate citizenship philosophy. To learn more about Valley, go to www.valley.com or call our Customer Service Center at 800-522-4100.

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FINANCE, BUSINESS STRATEGY

Counterpart Launches AI-Powered Crime Coverage For Small Businesses Backed by Aspen Insurance

Counterpart | September 16, 2022

Counterpart, the AI-driven management liability insurtech for small businesses, today announced the launch of Crime insurance. The policy can be purchased on a standalone basis or packaged with its existing Directors & Officers, Employment Practices, and Fiduciary insurance lines. Backed by Aspen, the Crime insurance expansion reinforces Counterpart’s commitment to using its cutting-edge technology to address critical exposures of small businesses.Employee theft costs businesses $50 billion annually, and costs are rising at a rate of 15% per year, according to the U.S Department of Commerce. The new offering helps identify employee theft and social engineering perils by utilizing Counterpart’s proprietary machine learning-based underwriting system, which includes employee sentiment analysis, as well as proactive risk mitigation guidelines. “Small businesses often lack the internal auditing and risk management capabilities of larger businesses, which can make them more susceptible to Crime risk. Our extensive underwriting experience, proprietary data infrastructure, and increased market presence have enabled us to craft a Crime product that complements our existing insurance lines,We are grateful for the continued support of the well-respected team at Aspen, along with many of our broker partners, who have helped us develop a very competitive product.” Mike Levins, Head of Insurance at Counterpart Crime insurance is available for small businesses with less than 250 employees and less than $100 million in revenue and total assets through Counterpart’s wholesale broker partners. “Counterpart continues to impress CRC Group and the brokerage community with its effective and efficient quoting and binding tools. Now, with their Crime capabilities, we can rely on Counterpart as a one-stop shop for comprehensive management liability coverage for our valued Insureds,” said Dan Lazarz, Director, CRC - ExecPro Group. “Counterpart has established an impressive track record of innovation,” said Zac Clammer, Executive Vice President, Management Liability at Aspen. “We are pleased to continue developing our partnerships with Counterpart across the growing portfolio of excess and primary small business insurance products that we are bringing to market.” Small businesses should contact their broker about Counterpart insurance coverage and can learn more about Counterpart’s products and services by visiting: yourcounterpart.com About Counterpart Counterpart is an AI-driven management liability insurance solution for the 21st century workplace. The company offers modern Directors & Officers, Employment Practices, Excess and Fiduciary products for small businesses. Through data mining and advanced analytics, the company's rating systems measure risk more efficiently while requiring less information from the broker and applicant. Counterpart’s distinctive approach to underwriting is complemented by a suite of products and services that help brokers and insureds proactively manage exposures throughout the term of the policy. For more information, visit yourcounterpart.com About Aspen Insurance Holdings Limited Aspen provides insurance and reinsurance coverage to clients in various domestic and global markets through wholly-owned subsidiaries and offices in Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. For the year ended December 31, 2021, Aspen reported $13.8 billion in total assets, $7.6 billion in gross reserves, $2.8 billion in total shareholders’ equity, and $3.9 billion in gross written premiums. Aspen's operating subsidiaries have been assigned a rating of “A-” (Strong) by Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and an “A” (“Excellent”) by A.M. Best Company Inc.

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Spotlight

We recently caught up with one of our clients HIT Ltd to discuss how SmartPA has transformed their business practices. It's been a pleasure to provide call handling and admin support to HIT over the past year - here's their founder Euan Bowen to tell us about their experience.

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