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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Finovate’s 2023 Award for Top Emerging Fintech Company Goes to ‘Fintech Unicorn’ Union Credit

By W.B. King


When Co-Founders Dave Buerger and Barry Kirby launched Union Credit in early 2023, they had one goal in mind — strengthen the credit union movement by providing members with a one-click credit offer at the point of purchase.


Their solution soon began turning heads — so much so that during the recent FinovateFall Conference, Union Credit received a unique distinction: the award for the “Top Emerging Fintech Company.”

Union Credit's Barry Kirby presenting at FinovateFall 2023.

Buerger and Kirby, who have more than 40 years combined experience working in the credit union space, explained that this award, which Finovate notes is given to a startup most likely to become "the next fintech unicorn,” is only given to companies that are two years or younger.


“Finovate is a significant event for the credit union movement as it offers valuable insights into market trends and the challenges lenders are facing,” Kirby told Finopotamus. “During this year’s event, the importance of digital transformation and member-centric solutions became even more evident, which aligns perfectly with Union Credit’s ongoing mission.”


Dismantle Digital Barriers


Taking place at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in New York from Sept. 11 to 13, FinovateFall welcomed more than 1,700 attendees and featured more than 100 industry speakers, along with cutting-edge tech demos from 70-plus presenters, general sessions and network receptions.

Barry Kirby

"We learned about our nomination for the award this year from Finovate while actually attending another event. You can imagine the tone it set,” Kirby offered. “Being among the 600 applicants across all awards in our category was a testament to the industry’s competitiveness. The moment we were announced as the winner was exhilarating.”


In total, 24 Finovate awards were presented to vying fintechs.


Buerger said the award designation further solidified their belief that credit unions need a support system to “dismantle the digital barriers that hinder their ability to connect with consumers who might not yet be familiar with them.”


Kirby added that this approach is “the essence of what Union Credit represents – a vital bridge that enables credit unions to transcend the shadow of ‘too big to fail’ entities and present their consumer-centric products seamlessly in a one-click-to-activate marketplace.”


Attracting the Next Generation of Members


The Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Union Credit helps credit unions break into new markets digitally with access to the front-end of purchase and financing experiences. Merchants embedding the product, Kirby noted, benefit from providing customers with local, competitive, and advantageous offers that are in the buyer’s best interest.


“Our solution currently serves several dozen credit unions, and a common thread we’ve noticed is their proactive approach to attracting the next generation of members. With the national average age of credit union members being 54, there’s a clear and urgent need for credit unions to prioritize the acquisition of younger members,” he continued. “What draws credit unions to Union Credit is our ability to address this critical challenge by positioning credit unions directly in front of these potential members at the point of purchase.”


Union Credit, to date, has connected with a pool of over 133 million credit-qualified Americans. “Since our launch earlier this year, we’ve experienced positive user engagement and significant interest from credit unions across the country,” Kirby said, not offering exact figures.

Dave Buerger

The company has partnered with a host of digital merchants, such as Way.com, Bankrate and AmOne. This allows credit union clients, including America’s Credit Union, Teachers Federal Credit Union and Jovia Financial Credit Union, to extend their trusted brand outside of their traditional markets, explained Buerger.


“We are determined to stop credit unions from being the best kept secret in banking and enable consumers to access the funds they need within the transaction layer for various big-ticket items, like how buy now, pay later (BNPL) companies embed payment options in the checkout process for smaller purchases,” Buerger noted. “It’s an honor to win this award as we want to become the provider of this type of seamless lending experience that is surprisingly not yet prevalent today.”


An Intriguing Next Chapter


When Finopotamus asked what lies ahead for Union Credit, Kirby responded: “2024 will be nothing short of exciting.” In the next 60 to 90 days, for instance, the company has “major developments” in the works that he and Buerger are eager to unveil.


“While we can’t reveal all the details just yet, we invite you to stay tuned for what promises to be an intriguing next chapter,” he said, adding that the information gleaned from this year’s FinovateFall event will prove useful when considering forward-looking strategies.


“We’re excited to take these insights back to our organization and use them to prioritize our product roadmap to ensure we meet our clients’ future needs,” Kirby said.



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