By Thursday afternoon, Mr. Salmon said, the S.B.A. had sent out just a handful of bullet points to banks on what to do. The banks themselves had to decide how much paperwork on the borrowers’ financial histories would be sufficient and what, specifically, they had to do to prove they had checked to verify the authenticity of each borrower. Smaller lenders, Mr. Salmon said, appeared to be more nimble in handling these decisions.
“It’s easier to figure out what your process is going to be when you have a couple decision makers versus being the largest bank in the world,” he said.
Dan Taylor of Holton, Mich., who owns two small movie theaters in the area, made inquiries to 12 banks for a loan under the program. His own bank, a local lender called Chemical Bank, took his application on Sunday but warned him that it did not know how long approval would take. That was after Mr. Taylor had spent days filling out initial requests for a loan, including some to online lenders like Kabbage and Ameris Bank. He said he had received no response to those inquiries.
Ameris Bank did not respond to a request for comment.
“We’re experiencing an extraordinary number of calls, and our customer service team is addressing them as quickly as possible,” said Paul Bernardini, a spokesman for Kabbage, in an email to The Times. He asked that his email address be given to Mr. Taylor so he could try to assist him himself.
In San Diego, Calif., Aaron Bearce, who with a partner owns Vitality Tap, a wellness cafe, described his attempts to apply for a loan through Chase, the bank his business normally uses. He waited past midnight on Thursday for an application page to appear on Chase’s home page. It never did. On Friday, he received a notice from the bank that its application page would be up by noon, but it wasn’t. Instead, the bank asked borrowers to fill out a simple online form with their names, tax identification information and contact information. Mr. Bearce completed the form, but said he has not heard anything since.
“We have hundreds of underwriters calling customers, but the numbers of applications is very high,” said Anne Pace, a Chase spokeswoman. “We have a new application process launching shortly.”
Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.