On 23rd March 2020, the UK Government announced the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to help support SMEs weather the unprecedented uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was an admirable yet unavoidable move by the government to help mitigate some of the inevitable damage done to the economy by national and global lockdowns.
What the launch of the scheme set into motion, however, was extraordinary demand on lenders to analyse and process thousands upon thousands of applications as quickly as possible.
Meeting the demand while remaining compliant
A report by the Public Accounts Committee released on the 10th December 2020 highlighted that a staggering 1.4 million CBILS loans had been paid out up until the end of November at a combined value of £42.2 billion.
Moreover, British Business Bank figures published on their website in mid December stated a total of over £68 billion of finance had been paid out across all three schemes, with BBLS representing £43.5 billion and CBILS representing £19.6 billion.
Unfortunately, due to the swell in demand and the focus on speed of delivery, the report stipulates that as much as £26 billion could be lost. The majority of those losses are a result of credit losses, but the rest as a result of fraud.
At DueDil, this either/or scenario - speed or rigour - didn’t make sense. We felt it critical to respond and support our clients processing CBILS applications to do it quickly without compromising on compliance or unnecessarily exposing themselves to risk.
Developing a custom endpoint to meet the moment
To tackle this challenge, we released a COVID-19 endpoint.
This endpoint allows our clients to perform rapid checks against the qualifying criteria and delivers an easy-to-integrate screening process.
We added flags to our web portal so that company pages would show the information in real time.
We felt it necessary to react quickly and provide as much support as possible in uncertain times and, due to our flexible and scalable architecture, were able to do exactly that.
Ready to continue the support for our clients
Fast forward to 2021 and we find ourselves hopefully on the home straight. The UK Government closed applications for CBILS on 31st March 2021 and replaced it with the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS), which started on 6th April 2021.
While the qualification criteria are similar, we wanted clarity for our clients, ensuring business continuity and enabling them to make lending decisions effectively.
We have therefore made the following changes to how we handle COVID-19 loan eligibility across our apps:
- Any API requests to the COVID-19 endpoint will now always return a failure flag for CBILS or CLBILS (the equivalent scheme for large businesses).
- We added a new API response for the RLS which will return FAIL, WARN or PASS depending on whether the searched company meets the updated criteria
- We will no longer show CBILS or CLBILS eligibility within our web app, but we will show RLS eligibility based on the updated criteria
Our priority was, and is, to get actionable information into our clients’ hands in a timely fashion, and maintain backwards compatibility to avoid breaking any integrations.
We will maintain the COVID-19 endpoint for the duration of any equivalent schemes and keep you updated if there are any further expected changes.
For more information on the COVID-19 endpoint, you can check out our API documentation.