Three days after lenders began accepting applications for business bailout loans, Bank of America said requests for the cash reached 10 percent by Monday (April 6).
Jessica Oppenheim, a BOA spokeswoman, told PYMNTS early Monday morning that the number of applications has risen to 178,500 at a value of $32.9 billion.
On Friday, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told CNBC that all the bank’s attention will be on those businesses who have applied for the Congressional funds. New clients and other small business customers, he said, will have to take a back seat for now.
“We have to focus on the borrowing clients to make sure we can take care of them,” he said.
On Friday, Bank of America boasted it was the first lender to offer the loans. By mid-day, 85,000 customers have applied for $22.2 billion online, they said. Among the largest U.S. lenders, only Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase were accepting applications for the loan program as of Friday afternoon.
The federal relief initiative, dubbed the Paycheck Protection Program, offers $349 billion to small and medium-sized businesses.
The loans are part of a $2 trillion economic stimulus package approved in lightning speed by the White House and Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said if the $350 billion was not enough to support the targeted businesses, he will seek more money from Congress.
“One of the things I’ve heard is this small business program is going to be so popular that we’re going to run out of our $350 billion,” he told CNBC. “If that’s the case, I can assure you that will be top of the list for me to go back to Congress on. It has huge bipartisan support and we want to protect small business.”
Mnuchin was not alone in anticipating the need for more relief.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has also called for more coronavirus assistance. She told CNBC on Friday that she wants more small business loan funding.
Pelosi was interviewed by CNBC’s Jim Cramer of “Squawk on the Street,” after a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealed non-farm employment fell by 701,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent from a low of 3.5 percent.