Nearly 10 years ago, WSECU was getting ready to launch a new product; Q-Cash. Q-Cash is a payday loan alternative and provides members access to short-term loans at better rates and more favorable terms than found at storefront payday lenders.
It was new territory for us to create a loan product from scratch that was different than any other we offered. It needed to be better than what members could get elsewhere. And let’s face it, one challenge was that it’s a loan some would say had more negatives associated with it than positives.
A decade later, Q-Cash is a success. While short-term loans are not for everyone, they are an important option for many members, particularly those who don’t have access to other available credit or encounter an unexpected financial emergency. We’re helping members who need help, and that’s what it’s all about. And in entering this marketplace, we’re providing important competition – a sort of checks and balances – to the other players, which benefits consumers.
Early in our research, we learned that WSECU members were paying nearly $1 million in interest to payday lenders annually under restrictive terms. Now, members using Q-Cash have lower rates, longer payment terms, more financial counseling and options to progress into more traditional loan products after successfully paying back Q-Cash loans. It took five years before we earned a penny from Q-Cash loans. Through developments in automation, they are now modestly profitable for the overall cooperative and, more importantly, provide members a trusted source for short-term loans. With that comes our outstanding service and interest in members’ overall financial wellness and success.
Credit unions are the very places innovation like this should be taking place. We need to be on the front lines of meeting members’ needs in new ways. We need to continue to find solutions to challenging problems. The financial services landscape is changing quickly with new players and new products all the time. None can provide the same trusted relationship as a membership-centered cooperative. Look for more innovation for changing times from your credit union. It’s part of what we expect of ourselves in order to serve you best.