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How FinTech Lenders Are Delivering COVID Stimulus Faster Than Banks

When President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act relief package into law on March 11, 2021, millions of Americans looked forward to receiving a much-needed $1400 stimulus check from the government. Although many people would receive paper checks directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), anyone who had previously filed their taxes electronically and had returns delivered to their bank accounts were eligible to receive their stimulus relief via direct deposit. The IRS set the date of March 17 for the delivery of stimulus funds, which would give sufficient time for payments to make their way through the complex Automated Clearing House (ACH) system used to transfer payments electronically.

FinTech Lenders to the Rescue

But on March 12, just one day after the landmark bill was signed into law, many FinTech banking customers received notifications that funds had already been delivered to their accounts. The digital banking startup Current bragged on Twitter that afternoon that it had already distributed $600 million to 250,000 customers. On March 15, the FinTech lender Chime announced that it had paid about $3.5 billion to more than one million customers over the weekend. Chime had previously made headlines the previous spring when it advanced stimulus funds from the CARES Act to customers before the government actually made the money available.

Unsurprisingly, the announcements caused quite an uproar from customers at traditional banks that did not start releasing funds until the previously announced March 17 date. Despite many of the accusations leveled at these lenders, however, the discrepancy had nothing to do with banks deliberately withholding funds and everything to do with the unique business model of leading FinTech lenders.

In the case of Chime, for instance, the company frequently makes payment funds available to customers as soon as the transfer is initiated, rather than waiting for it to clear through the ACH. “I guess you could argue we’re taking a risk,” said Chime co-founder and CEO Chris Britt. “But we’ve been told by the Federal Reserve that the money is coming so we don’t think it’s that much of a risk.” 

Traditional banks were quick to respond by saying that they could not make funds available before March 17 because that was the date set by the government for the money to actually be transferred. For FinTech companies with higher risk tolerance, the delay provided a unique opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of digital lending applications. During the first wave of stimulus checks in April of 2020, mobile banking app registrations increased by 200% over the previous month as Americans rushed to embrace various forms of digital banking.

The Flexible Features of FinTech Applications

Part of the reason why FinTech lenders are willing to offer more generous services to customers is that they often assess risk differently than traditional banks. Armed with sophisticated algorithms and data capture tools, FinTech applications are able to gather more information about customers and lending sources to create a more accurate risk profile.

Over the last two decades, FinTech developers have worked hard to build the digital platforms that innovative firms are using to offer these services. These software solutions need to be flexible enough to process information quickly and provide essential functionality that helps both FinTech firms and their customers to view and share information quickly and easily.

Forms Processing

Structured forms are an essential tool of the financial services industry, whether it’s a loan application or an IRS tax form. The faster those forms can be processed, the more quickly firms can deliver money into the hands of their customers. That’s why FinTech developers need to make sure they’re incorporating the forms processing tools that make it easy to automate data capture. Given that the latest round of COVID stimulus funds are based upon tax return information, many customers will be scrambling to update their records as quickly as possible. By integrating the tools to process that data with haste, FinTech developers can help firms keep pace with the needs of their clients.

Easy Viewing

While FinTech developers are primarily building applications for lenders, they should always keep in mind that a solution that doesn’t provide a positive customer experience will have trouble catching on in a crowded marketplace. Today’s banking customers expect transparent and intuitive applications that allow them to quickly view their financial records and check the status of applications or loans. By building HTML5 viewing capabilities into their FinTech solutions, developers can help customers track the status and history of their finances, which is certainly a major concern as they monitor the status of their stimulus payments.

Interactive Tools

With all of the nuances surrounding COVID stimulus payments in the latest round of legislation, many customers will be turning to their FinTech lender to understand how much money they can expect to receive based on their eligibility. A well-designed spreadsheet may be able to provide this or similar information much more quickly than building a dedicated tool within an application, but downloading XLSX files can be a hassle for many people, especially for customers who primarily interact with their FinTech bank using a mobile device. By giving firms the ability to securely embed spreadsheets into their applications, developers can help them to quickly share tools and resources with customers, regardless of what kind of device they’re using.

Empowering the FinTech Future with Accusoft

Accusoft’s collection of SDK and API integrations allow FinTech developers to build a broad range of features into their applications to streamline processing and accelerate vital financial services. 

Our FormSuite forms SDK collection can automate form identification and OCR data capture to help FinTech applications maintain their speed advantage when it comes to processing applications and loans. For financial platforms that need comprehensive viewing functionality, PrizmDoc Viewer’s HTML5 viewing, annotation, and redaction capabilities can turn any platform into a powerful document viewer that helps users handle most of their financial business purely through their FinTech application. 

And when it comes to embedding interactive spreadsheets to provide quick reference and calculations for various services, PrizmDoc Cells allows developers to bypass the difficult work of building that functionality from the ground up. To learn more about how Accusoft integrations are powering the next generation of FinTech applications, visit our financial services page and download our FinTech integrations fact sheet.