Washington Federal is the latest bank to partner with a tech company in an effort to streamline online loan applications.

The $14.6 billion-asset bank announced that it has launched a digital application process for small-business borrowers, using a technology from San Francisco-based Lendeavor.

Washington Federal, which is headquartered in Seattle, sends its small-business customers a hyperlink that they can use to submit all of the required documents through a cloud-based platform.

"It's a lot more efficient for the clients," said Stasha Reed, who leads the small-business banking team at Washington Federal. "And it's a good benefit for us because it doesn't bog down our email."

The initiative represents an early step in Washington Federal's plans to lean more heavily on technology in its lending operations. Unlike many online lenders, the bank is not currently able to make automated loan decisions.

Under the partnership, Washington Federal will refer applicants who do not qualify for a bank loan to Lendeavor, which runs an aggregation site where small-business owners can shop for credit.

Washington Federal, which has 245 branches in eight states, is one of numerous banks that are turning to licensed technology in order to compete in the fast-growing online lending arena.

Those banks range greatly in size — from the $1.9 billion-asset Pacific Continental Bank in Eugene, Ore., to JPMorgan Chase, which announced a high-profile partnership with OnDeck Capital last week.