In an effort to help lenders expedite the processing of applications for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program, which aims to keep workers employed during the coronavirus pandemic, Google developed an AI solution called PPP Lending AI that integrates with existing document ingestion tools. It’s available to eligible lending institutions through June 30.

As Google explains in a whitepaper, AI can automate the handling of volumes of loan applications by identifying patterns that would take a human worker longer to spot. Specifically, PPP Lending AI can classify and extract data in critical paperwork before readying documents for submission to the SBA.

PPP Lending AI, which Google says takes only days to implement, is a solution in three parts.

The first is the Loan Processing Portal, a web-based app that serves as a user interface and self-servicing center. In addition to providing administration views for loan officers and loan processors, it allows end users and loan applicants to create, submit, and view the status of their PPP loan.

The second piece of PPP Lending AI is the Document AI PPP Parser, which allows lenders to use AI to extract structured information from loan documents submitted by the loan applicants. It’s built atop Google Cloud‘s Document AI, a service that leverages optical character recognition, form parsing, and natural language processing to capture and enrich unstructured data.

The third is Loan Analytics, which lets servicers or lenders onboard structured historical loan data, perform de-identification anonymization on sensitive information, store it securely with fine-grained data access control, and perform queries on the data.

Google AI PPP lending tool

Above: A schematic illustrating the Google’s PPP lending tool.

Image Credit: Google

“Leveraging artificial intelligence, we’ve created an end-to-end solution that speeds up the time-to-decision on loans and helps inform lenders’ liquidity analysis — from the initial application submission to the underwriting process and SBA validation,” wrote Google Cloud global financial services and solutions lead Christin Brown in a blog post. “The solution is also equipped with Google’s security capabilities, enabling lenders to meet policy requirements and protect critical assets.”

Google says lenders can speak with a Google Cloud account manager for more information.

PPP Lending AI appears to skirt around a newly imposed U.S. Treasury and SBA rule prohibiting the submission of PPA loans prepared by robotic process automation (RPA), or AI systems that perform repetitive, monotonous tasks at scale with greater speed and accuracy than humans. The agencies blamed RPA for overburdening E-Tran, the SBA’s electronic loan servicing portal, and reducing its capabilities.

Google Cloud global financial services strategy and solutions lead Christin Brown told VentureBeat via email the tool doesn’t result in automatic filing of PP applications, meaning it’s in compliance with SBA policy. “Our solution’s Document AI PPP Parser component enables lenders to extract structured information from PPP loan documents submitted by a loan applicant,” he added. “This process can help banks parse loan documents needed for PPP applications, thereby speeding the time to decision.”

On Monday, E-Tran crashed minutes after the opening of $310 billion in additional PPP funding. The funds were approved last week following the first $349 billion round, which ran out in early April. That’s in spite of the fact that the SBA limited application submissions to 350 per hour and allowed banks with a minimum of 5,000 loans to bulk-file their applications.

PPP loans are available to small businesses that were in operation as of February 15 with 500 or fewer employees, including not-for-profits, veterans’ organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors. Businesses with more than 500 employees in certain industries can also apply for loans, according to the SBA and Treasury.