An Oregon credit union has formed a CUSO to build affordable mobile phone apps that their members can use to borrow money, deposit checks or do other tasks yet to be imagined.
Providence Federal Credit Union of Portland ($137.6 million in assets, 16,141 members) announced Tuesday that it formed PFCU Technology Solutions LLC, a wholly-owned CUSO that will contract with credit unions to consult on fintech needs.
The CUSO will operate under the name CU APPS, and will focus on designing and maintaining mobile applications for credit unions with plans to expand into a subscription model as demand grows.
Providence FCU said its research showed that while consumers continued to use mobile banking apps more extensively, they were finding a limited selection at their credit unions. At the same time, credit unions need affordable apps in order to provide competitive services to their members.
“There is a significant technology deficit for credit unions due to most third-party software developers being unable to provide the solutions needed,” Providence FCU President/CEO Shirley Cate said.
Brett Wooden, the credit union’s COO, has been appointed CEO of CU APPS.
Wooden began his career in financial services with Wells Fargo Bank in 2003. He has since worked for Unitus Community Credit Union in Portland, Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union in Houston, Texas and McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union in East Windsor, N.J., 10 miles southeast of Princeton, N.J.
He joined Providence FCU in October 2016 as its chief retail officer, and was named COO in December 2017.
“His knowledge and experience in the app space, as well as his passion for innovation and technology, will help CU APPS bring affordable and relevant solutions to credit unions no matter their size,” Cate said.
CU APPS said all the apps it produces, licenses and maintains will be available on both Apple iOS and Google Android. The solutions are expected to include mortgage and loan applications, general banking services, and financial health for children and adults.
“Consumers are constantly searching for the best mobile applications, and credit union members are no different,” Wooden said. “Fintech applications require higher security than most consumer-focused apps, so it makes sense to pair with a technology partner that is familiar with the credit union landscape and member needs.”
As CU APPS begins to grow, the goal is to eventually produce products that can be licensed and branded to credit unions on a Software-as-a-Service subscription model. The CUSO said the SaaS model “will give credit unions of all sizes the flexibility to customize their fintech needs to fit their exact requirements.”