How Concentra Bank delivered a COVID-19 relief loan program in five days and provided critical assistance to thousands of businesses
The program is expected to distribute $200M in relief funds to small businesses in need.
How to rapidly deliver emergency funds to thousands of small businesses across 35 credit unions during the COVID-19 pandemic when legacy systems were not scalable.
“We needed a rapid implementation of a new digital customer experience that could securely manage and protect member data. When we met with Cinchy, we collaborated on all the data streams upfront and automated them. The solution exceeded everyone’s expectations. The Cinchy platform lets us deliver an end-to-end COVID-19 relief solution, not just window dressing,” said Jim Vibert. “By using Cinchy’s data fabric approach, we were surprised at how quickly we were able to automate manual and legacy systems across our 35 credit union partners.”
Concentra is Canada’s leading provider of wholesale banking and trust solutions to credit unions. With a forward-thinking, innovative approach, Concentra forges partnerships to develop comprehensive lending and investment solutions. The bank also offers a wide range of financial services in areas such as specialized banking, consumer finance, treasury, and wealth/trust.
“From day one, we were impressed by how we could leverage Cinchy’s data fabric to immediately address the issues of distributing the COVID-19 relief program to credit union members. The team moved quickly from concept to live production in just one week. Their Data Collaboration solution exceeded our immediate technology needs and provided for the complex reporting and governance required by the Government.”
Chief Banking Officer, Concentra
Empowering small business is at the heart of the Concentra story
For decades Concentra Bank has been at the centre of the business community, helping organizations access the funding they need to thrive.
In early April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began introducing a significant set of new challenges for their customers. Businesses began to struggle and required rapid access to funds to stay afloat. In response, governments around the world introduced relief programs to save businesses by guaranteeing the funds that would be distributed by financial service providers.
One of those programs, administered through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), is aimed at helping small businesses remain afloat by covering short-term operating expenses, payroll, and other non-deferrable expenses.
Government relief funds were distributed through Concentra and select banks to manage the governance and auditing of loans for the next 2.5 years. Concentra needed a way to rapidly service the CEBA loans as efficiently as possible to a network of 35 credit unions across Saskatchewan.
Concentra was faced with a new set of challenges
A tight timeline of only five days to develop a digital solution for the in-take thousands of COVID-19 relief loan applications.
Develop a centralized yet fully customizable secure loan platform for 35 credit unions that protected member privacy and ensured data governance was auditable.
The requirement to automate complex reporting outlined by the Canadian Federal Government.
Scaling quickly to adapt to a new reality
Concentra was faced with a challenge of quickly aligning its processes to this new reality.
Due to the speed required to get funds to those who needed them, traditional approaches that used slow manual processes including front-end forms and patchwork back ends were not an option. Reporting on the funds was going to be required daily and for 2.5 years so solutions managed through Excel or hastily developed code were not an approach that Concentra considered. They knew manual processes wouldn't scale up or hold up to the rigours of ongoing monitoring and would very likely put personal banking data at risk.
Concentra needed a way to ensure its operations department could service the CEBA loans as efficiently as possible and automate much of this manual work. It had to be easy to use, given the varying technical capabilities across Concentra’s 35 credit union partners. It also had to be customizable for each partner so members felt they were being serviced by their own financial institution; it had to be highly secure, able to issue timely reports and auditable.
With thousands of small businesses needing COVID-19 relief loans, Concentra required an application process to meet the strict requirements of the program to support 35 credit unions in Saskatchewan.
The solution had to enable both applicants and credit unions to collaborate on data, as opposed to making copies and sharing it, which would expose sensitive information to security threats.
Moving beyond data sharing and data integration
There is a crucial need for the private and public sectors to move beyond data sharing and data integration technologies that require data to be copied as it moves between systems — with potentially catastrophic impacts on data privacy and data protection.
Data Fabric offers the bridging technology to not only enable a rapid response for time-sensitive emergency programs, but also to enable the ongoing use of data in a secure platform where it can always be accessed. This simply is not possible with today's models, where every system needs its own data storage solution and users are forced to spend significant amounts of time and money on integration and its byproducts such as ETLs, APIs, reconciliation, and MDM.
Data Fabric approach enabled a rapid response in five days
From the front-end portal to the automated back-end reporting, Cinchy’s solution was delivered to Concentra in five days. “The Cinchy platform lets us deliver a full solution, not just window dressing,” said Vibert. “We needed a rapid implementation of a web portal system, and Cinchy thought about all of the data streams upfront and automated them. By using Cinchy’s data fabric approach, we were thrilled with how quickly we were able to provide a solution to our 35 credit union partners that exceeded everyone’s expectations. ”
Cinchy’s Data Fabric provided a comprehensive system that allowed data to be captured through a web form and automatically pushed to the Cinchy platform. This enabled a seamless workflow of information between Concentra and the credit union supporting the client. It made the process of sending the necessary reports to the Canadian federal government highly efficient, allowing funds to be approved and distributed much faster to the businesses that needed them.
The automation throughout the data lifecycle has also increased Concentra’s efficiency. As Vibert says, “Cinchy has automated the processing to create the required government reports; instead of the manual chaos at the back end with multiple people trying to process data, we can have one person handling those tasks.”
Now, all of the data on the Cinchy platform is fully tracked and auditable, with capabilities that meet stringent regulatory reporting requirements of the programs. Vibert notes the importance of meeting these requirements: “When you submit these different schedules and forms, the government cross-checks. If you’re not getting everything done, they have the ability to exclude you from the COVID-19 relief program. Cinchy was available to meet those deadlines, so to be able to rely on the system was crucial.”
The results of the solution
Made loan processing seamless for 35 credit unions, allowing them to focus on members’ needs
An estimated five times the savings with Cinchy’s solution versus similar solutions and an infrastructure to expand to other relief programs
End-to-end solution delivered in five days to get loans to members when they needed it the most
The impact of using
Data Fabric technology
After implementing Cinchy’s Data Fabric, Concentra was able to facilitate more than 1200 applications in approximately one week for credit union members to distribute to businesses that urgently needed them. And by adopting this new paradigm, Concentra now has the flexibility to integrate the solution into any system and respond to emerging requirements in real-time, including future COVID-19 relief loan programs and economic stimulus programs like wage subsidies and payment programs.
In partnership with Cinchy, Concentra has been able to respond to the pandemic’s challenges. Thousands of small businesses can now receive much-needed funding from the COVID-19 relief loan. The implementation of Cinchy’s Data Fabric has also been critical to bringing security and true data collaboration across Concentra and its credit union members.
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“After being in my career for 35 years, this project felt like it truly mattered. We knew we had to service the credit union members by coming up with a solution in an incredibly short time frame, so we could help them during this challenging time.”
Director, Special Projects, Concentra Bank