Each year NACUSO recognizes CUSOs pushing to make a difference within the industry through the prestigious CUSO of the Year Awards. The 2021 CUSO of the Year Awards consisted of nine candidates established for more than five years, and were examined on the following criteria:
- Thought Leadership and Critical Thinking
- Innovation in Organization Design
- Value Created Through the Use of Collaboration
- Implementation and Execution
- Results, Outcomes and Performance
After careful consideration and interviews with the nine candidates, all of which had good stories to tell, the results are as follows:
2021 CUSO of the Year Award Winner:
LoanStar Technologies developed a point-of-sale Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) system with the help of 4 credit unions who are owners of LoanStar. They have taken loans that were typically high interest rate (i.e. almost predatory loans) at POS and changed to make a monthly payment members can afford without the high rates and fees. LoanStar has 33 credit unions on their platform, and they recently acquired CU Direct’s OnSpot business. LoanStar expects to originate $1 billion in loans in 2022.
LoanStar is a full digital experience, the member does not have to go into a branch, they do everything online or with the organization who sells products/services to the consumer. LoanStar has a sales force to help sell to merchants (i.e. dentists, home improvement providers, golf card dealer, etc.) on behalf of a lender. They typically have only one ldner to a merchant, except for big merchants like Renewal by Andersen (window replacement), which is a nationwide relationship.
Andy Turner, founder and CEO, describes LoanStar as a atech company that helps credit unions make loans. LoanStar has an advisory committee that includes credit unions owners and users as well as CUNA Mutual, to help guide the business. LoanStar is paid a percentage of funded loans, so is paid on a success basis, and LoanStar is profitable. Andy said LoanStar will do $100 million in swimming pool loans and $10 million in laser eye surgery in 2021, and that LoanStar helps credit unions to generate new members, by offering BNPL loans that eligible members want to utilize.
2021 CUSO of the Year – Honorable Mention:
In 2005 WA State Employees Credit Union discovered members were using predatory payday lenders to help make ends meet and started QCash to help members with reasonable rates and financial education. Ten years later, in 2015, QCash Financial was spun off as an independent CUSO to help credit unions across the USA serve their members short term cash needs. We felt QCash’s innovative solution to predatory payday lenders, ingenious approach to underwriting and leading-edge digital delivery as well as their growing impact deserved special recognition.
Approximately 157 million people struggle financially in the U.S. and 43% of Americans cannot handle an unexpected $400 expense. QCash does not use credit scores, they use relational underwriting (based upon the member’s relationship with the CU), and have less than a 5% charge off rate! Members can get cash into their CU account in under 60 seconds 24x7x365 through their mobile app or the credit union’s website. QCash has both live event loans and specialty loans. Average loan size is $1,200 – $1,500.
39 credit unions are currently using QCash and QCash integrates directly with the Core system of the CU, and their system sets up the loan, setsup an auto payment schedule, etc. In Oregon, a credit union was offering wildfire evacuation loans through QCash. QCash is a SaaS platform, and they have a success business model, so QCash only gets paid when they fund a member loan for a credit union. Credit unions set the rates and any fees, and it is driven by what credit union goals are. The QCash platform is multi-lingual.
Since inception, QCash has made nearly 700,000 loans. Seth Brickman, CEO has a real passion about helping members and he looks at the number of loans they make each day as the number of families they have helped. QCash has 40 credit unions in their funnel. They recently went live with Wright-Patt CU in OH and did 1,300 loans in the first 3 days.