A Chicago technology company that enables banks to make small-business loans online got an endorsement Monday from the American Bankers Association.

The privately held Akouba will offer its origination and underwriting platform to ABA-member banks, which will receive preferred pricing, according to a press release announcing the agreement.

Chris Rentner is the CEO of Akouba, which provides online lending technology to banks.
Chris Rentner is the CEO of Akouba, which provides online lending technology to banks.

The deal is designed to give smaller banks a better chance of competing with marketplace lenders. Participating banks will establish their own credit policies, and the online loan application process will carry each bank’s own branding.

“The small-business loan application process is very time-sensitive and costly for banks, and there is a need to simplify and accelerate the process,” Bryan Luke, a Hawaii banker who is chairman of an ABA advisory council, said in the release.

Akouba is one of several tech companies that offer online lending platforms to banks. “We have implemented a lot of the same technology strategies online lenders use and given those tools to banks as a platform,” Akouba CEO Chris Rentner said in a 2016 interview.

The ABA selected Akouba following what the trade group described as an extensive due diligence process. ABA spokesman John Hall said in an email that more such announcements are in the pipeline.

Kevin Wack

Kevin Wack

Kevin Wack is a California-based reporter for American Banker who covers the U.S. consumer finance industry.