QCash Issues Millionth Loan, Saving Tens of Thousands From Predatory Lenders
By W.B. King
When QCash Financial’s CEO Seth Brickman traveled to Lansing, Mich. in late September 2023, he was on a celebratory mission — delivering a $10,000 check to Astera Credit Union in recognition of the credit union facilitating the CUSO’s one millionth loan.
“I flew out because I wanted to thank them personally for making a difference in their members’ lives,” Brickman told Finopotamus.
The donation will be used to support a financial literacy and economic empowerment initiative the credit union announced with a local, like-minded organization, The Fledge. Among scheduled offerings will be the LifeCents Financial Wellness App.
"Credit Unions were founded with the purpose of ‘people helping people,’ and that is still core to our values. There is nothing more important than being able to help people achieve financial independence,” Astera Credit Union CEO Martin Carter noted. “As part of that work, we’re committed to providing our underserved communities with equitable access to financial products and services, education and literacy.”
The Fledge's Founder Jerry Norris was thrilled with the donation, noting that Astera Credit Union shares the same community vision.
"Where every individual has the tools to achieve financial stability and realize their true potential," Norris said. "We are enthusiastic about the manifold opportunities this collaboration will unfold for the communities we serve, truly embodying our belief that ‘genius is lost in poverty.
A Mission-Driven Fintech
The Olympia, Wash.-based CUSO, Brickman explained, is a “mission-driven fintech firm offering a relationship-based lending platform that empowers credit unions to improve the financial well-being of their communities.” This, he added, is achieved by providing small-dollar loans to credit union members in 60 seconds without the use of a credit score.
In March 2023, Alloya Corporate Federal Credit Union and Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU) announced a strategic partnership under which Alloya acquired QCash Financial. In 2015, WSECU gave rise to QCash Financial through a unique small-dollar lending pilot program.
“We are elated to be joining Alloya,” Brickman said. “QCash has seen exceptional growth in recent years, and Alloya is the optimal partner to protect and enhance the success of not only the CUSO, but also our credit union clients, who entrust QCash to deliver safe and equitable lending solutions for their members.”
Being a CUSO, Brickman said there is an “inherent legitimacy” within the industry. “You understand credit unions and are devoted to the credit union industry,” he continued. “One of things that made us a desirable acquisition target is that we are owned by credit unions and only service credit unions.”
The QCash’s model keeps, on average, over 20,000 families per month out of the predatory lending loop, he noted. Many of these small-dollar loans are for “life events” where members need a little extra help.
“When we talk internally about the millionth loan, we think of it as a million families we have taken out of predatory lending,” he said. “And when the member pays off the loan, it helps them build good credit and a better credit score.”
In one example, a member had a 450 credit score. After successfully paying off a few QCash loans that figure jumped 200 points. This allowed the individual to qualify for traditional lending, a mortgage, Brickman offered, adding that the credit union reports loan repayments to credit bureaus.
“This made him the first home owner in his family,” he said. “This changes the trajectory of all the future generations of that man’s family — it’s incredible.”
Among benefits of the partnership with Alloya Corporate Federal Credit Union is the ability to be more efficient with time, which, in turn, allows the QCash team to help more credit union members in need, Brickman said.
Todd Adams, CEO of Alloya Corporate Federal Credit Union, is looking forward to assisting QCash on its mission to issue possibly another million, or perhaps more, small-dollar loans.
“We are honored that QCash selected Alloya for this opportunity and we welcome the QCash team to the Alloya family,” said Adams. “As with any new partnership, shared values were a top consideration in this decision for both QCash and Alloya, and we have certainly found that alignment. Together, we are not only supporting credit union success, but also furthering an important mission to drive financial inclusion.”