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Credit union service organizations (CUSOs) began as an outlier, an unusual peculiarity, and scarcely used in the world of finance and banking.

And for a long time, the only well-known CUSOs were the largest: CO-OP Financial Services, PSCU, and similar organizations that offered technological, operational, and other financial services primarily to credit unions and their memberships. However, after decades of relative obscurity, starting in the 2000s and especially the late 2010s, CUSOs rose to prominence in today’s mobile technology-driven world of consumer finance and convenience. 

“CUSOs are the only real way for credit unions to invest in financial technology,” says Brian Lauer, Partner at Messick, Lauer, and Smith, P.C., and the leading legal expert for CUSOs. Quoted in CU 2.0, he found internal development is simply unrealistic for the budgets of the majority of cooperatives. Lauer emphasized what he calls an “inflection point” for CUSOs within the last decade or so. With increased exposure to fintechs, entrepreneurs, and investors, CUSOs have sharpened their focus, substantially.

Barb Lowman, President of CUNA Strategic Services, agrees with the specialization and narrowing of scope. She states “CUSOs are much more intricate and complex than they used to be,” taking note of the fact that “the strategic value of CUSOs has increased in helping solve the problems that credit unions face daily.”

WEBINAR: The importance of CUSOs in today’s credit union movement

The increased specialization and importance of CUSOs in today’s credit union marketplace is growing ever more valuable by narrowing down and solving a single, small issue or related group of issues on behalf of cooperatives. At the same time, CUSOs have demonstrated the ability to save credit unions millions of dollars in operating costs while raising the level of services provided.

Such advantages are explored in this week’s just-published CU Broadcast webinar with Mike Lawson (full episode here). QCash CEO Seth Brickman joined fellow distinguished guests Mary Beth Spuck, President and CEO of Resource One Credit Union, and Jack Antonini, President and CEO of the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO), to share their perspectives on the value CUSOs bring to cooperatives, particularly in today’s hyper-fast financial services environment.

To have the president from NACUSO itself in Mr. Antonini, a CUSO leader in Seth, and a president from a successful credit union in Mary Beth offers a well-rounded, experienced, and ultra-knowledgeable discussion for why cooperatives should partner, invest, or start a CUSO – a sector of the credit union movement that is undoubtedly unique compared to most other industry verticals. 

Importance of CUSOs
Photo: Randi Sihaloho | Unsplash

How CUSOs can solve for emerging challenges and opportunities

CUSOs empower credit unions to coalesce in order to take on emerging challenges. QCash itself was formed to help credit unions nationwide gather, collect, and analyze large amounts of data on an affordable basis in order to change the small dollar lending industry for the better through mobile fintech. 

The ability to use data offered by CUSOs to make service and lending decisions represents a giant industry shift for credit unions who cannot afford to fall behind or drag their feet. Even large credit unions, in fact, wouldn’t have the ability to tackle today’s newfound challenges, issues, and competition by themselves. The opportunity to level up with a CUSO can often spell success or failure for many of today’s credit unions.

With the knowledge and perspectives gained from this week’s webinar interview with Mike Lawson and CU Broadcast, we invite credit union executives to consider the importance of CUSOs by witnessing the efficiency, affordability, and ease with which fintech like QCash can enhance and build upon your cooperative’s small dollar lending division.

Simply click here to request and view our demo to see how it can change the lives of your members and your credit union community!