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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Origence Reflects on 30 Years in Business and Looks Forward to Lending Tech Live Conference

Updated: Jun 19

By W.B. King

In 2015, Centris Federal Credit Union was awarded Best Practices for Marketing to Members at Origence’s Lending Tech Live event. Accepting the accolade was Vice President of Lending Rick Seamann, who said the experience was an honor but also a bit terrifying.

“This was the first time I had been on a stage in front of several hundred people,” Seamann told Finopotamus. In total, he has attended eight conferences and will also be onsite at Lending Tech Live 24 in San Diego, which takes place at the Marriott Marquis from June 25-27. (Finopotamus will be providing onsite coverage of the event.)

The inaugural event took place in 1999, explained Erika Hill, vice president of marketing for the Irvine, Calif.-based CUSO.

“It was created to provide a venue for credit union professionals to discuss the latest industry trends and develop resilient strategies for building lending portfolios,” Hill told Finopotamus. “With a focus on collaboration, our event allows credit unions to gather ideas to serve their members better.”

Centris FCU is among the fintech’s 1,100 credit union clients. And whereas this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Lending Tech Live event, Origence began operating in 1994.

“Very few fintech companies have existed for a decade, let alone 30 years. Over the past three decades, we’ve worked diligently to build credibility with the auto industry, while positioning credit unions to be competitive with captive finance companies,” said Hill, who added that there are more than 20,000 automotive dealers in the company’s network. “From the very beginning, we aimed to help credit unions make more loans and grow their community presence and this continues as our mission today.”

Power of Partnership

When Seamann hears the term “CUSO,” the first thing that comes to mind is “strategic partnerships.”  Without these partnerships, he said, “Many innovative solutions would not be available to credit unions at scale. CUSOs keep credit union’s compliant, relative and provide innovative efficiencies that credit unions could not develop on their own.”

Rick Seamann

Another word associated with CUSOs is "advocacy," he explained. “Together credit unions have a larger voice and as mentioned above cost efficiency and access to specialized knowledge of products/services to keep credit unions relative and diversified.”

Hill echoed these thoughts by adding that CUSOs are for credit unions, by credit unions.

“Collaboration is at their core as they seek innovation to stay relevant and compete as they use their collective strength to fill gaps and position for growth,” she said. “Through this cooperation, credit unions are able to better serve the financial needs of their members, leading the way with solutions that benefit their communities.”

Centris FCU has been in partnership with Origence for 12 years, noted Seamann. Over time, loan volumes have skyrocketed.

“In the beginning years, we were happy to hit $1 million a month, now we are averaging $15 million to $18 million a month,” he continued. “And have grown our dealer network by 70%, along with providing enhancements to the CUDL program to make Centris FCU a better lender. For example, SMARTFund allows us to fund 99% of our loans in a 48-hour period.”

What’s on Tap at Lending Tech Live '24?

2023 marked the largest Lending Tech Live attendance to date, noted Hill who believes that the 30-year milestone will bring together even more people this year. There are many surprises in store, including featuring “some legends of the credit union world,” she said.

“We invited credit union legends who have paved the way for credit union lending to share their stories. We’ll be focused on paying it forward in a special way, recognizing the achievements that have been made, and ensuring that the legacy continues,” she continued. “Plus, it wouldn’t be a birthday without one of the biggest celebrations you’ve ever attended. It will be a celebration for the record books for sure.”

Along with the festivities will be important industry takeaways, which Seamann looks forward to experiencing.

“Two years ago, I attended a break-out session on GAP refunds by Allied Solutions,” he shared. “After attending the session, Centris realized that we had a gap in our process - no pun intended - that we immediately closed. Without Lending Tech Live I am not sure we would’ve been ahead of the curve with this process.”

Among current challenges, he added, is issues around compliance, a topic he will explore at the event. “I will be focused on meeting new strategic partners to strengthen our indirect offerings, and recharging my motivational batteries as this event brings in top-notch speakers that will get you fired up.”

Keynote speakers include Chris Gerdes, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at Stanford University. He leads an automotive engineering laboratory that focuses on understanding how cars move, human driving behavior, and the design of future vehicles that can collaborate seamlessly with drivers or even operate autonomously.

“Chris has a very fascinating background and deep insight into the automotive space. We are thrilled to have him share his unique perspective at Lending Tech Live,” said Phil DuPree, chief revenue officer for Origence. “His groundbreaking work in automotive engineering, coupled with his passion for innovation, assures a noteworthy session for all attendees.”

Play Ball

Artificial intelligence (AI), automation and machine learning are among other topics to be covered at event, explained Hill.

Erika Hill

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty around AI and how to accomplish automation, and we’ll be discussing what it can (and can’t) do for credit unions,” she said. “Other significant trends at the conference include liquidity strategies, the future of the automotive industry, GAP refund strategies, and more.”

In Seamann’s view, Origence has changed the landscape of indirect lending for credit unions. He added that the fintech has allowed credit unions to be “a local, regional, and national force in the indirect lending space.” 

As he looks forward to the event, Seamann, a baseball fan, said a trip to San Diego may also afford experiences outside the world of lending.

“I am looking forward to networking with other credit unions and listening to the motivational speakers, but a Padres baseball game never hurt anyone,” he said.


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