NWCUA Launches betaSpace to Connect Credit Unions With the Latest Fintech Innovations

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
– Alan Kay

The Fintech Revolution

“Software is eating the world,” says Marc Andreessen, inventor of the first modern web browser and early investor in Facebook, Skype, and Twitter. What he means is that technology is profoundly reshaping every industry, and successful institutions are those that embrace the change and use it to drive their success.

Software already underpins nearly every financial transaction in the developed world. And this is only the beginning of technology’s transformation of the financial sector. A new wave of fintech startups promises to further reshape the industry.

Introducing betaSpace™  

Watch this video to learn more about betaSpace.

The Northwest Credit Union Association believes that credit unions are in a unique position to benefit from, and help drive, the coming wave of fintech innovation. The Association, through its Strategic Link subsidiary, has created a new technology marketplace to connect Northwest credit unions to the brightest fintech startups. It’s called betaSpace™.

“Credit unions are ready for the fintech revolution,” said NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang. “Although some might not have the resources to develop new technologies internally or search out the latest innovations themselves, collectively as an Association we can find and vet the most promising fintech startups and connect them with our members through betaSpace™.”

Startups selected for betaSpace™ will offer Northwest credit unions access to their technologies at preferred prices. betaSpace™ launched today with two companies: Profits4Purpose and LifeCounts.

LifeCounts

LifeCounts is an online tool to help people manage their financial lives. It securely links all of their accounts, even those from different institutions, into one central dashboard. Not only can users see an overview of their full financial situation, they also get personalized spending insights, budgeting advice, and can set up goals and alerts to help them move their finances in the direction they choose.

“When you have a member who also has an account with another financial institution,” said Nicholas Howell, CEO of HowellCorp, the company that developed LifeCounts, “you can offer them a simple way to pull all of their information into one place and get personalized insights into their financial needs and goals.”

Northwest credit unions will be able to buy bulk LifeCounts subscriptions at deeply-discounted betaSpace™ rates for their members. Howell suggests that credit unions might offer subscriptions as free benefits to their members, or might make them available to members at cost or a small markup as a value add. The choice belongs to each individual credit union.

Through betaSpace™, LifeCounts has committed to link any Northwest credit union into its proprietary aggregation system at no cost to the credit union, and with no work on the credit union’s part. “The credit union doesn’t have to lift a finger,” said Howell. For smaller credit unions, he said, who don’t have access to other aggregation services, this will be a significant value add for members.

The LifeCounts service employs bank-level security and, as a paid service, is committed to never selling user data to advertisers, unlike many free services. All data is securely stored on the company’s proprietary, secure servers. And as a startup, the service is still evolving. They plan to launch an ambitious new mobile platform in the next six months.

Profits4Purpose

San Diego-based Profits4Purpose already has clients on the Fortune 500 list. They help institutions discover, track, and report their charitable work, including volunteerism, individual giving, and grant management. They work with several credit unions already, including BECU, Point West Credit Union, and First Tech Federal Credit Union, and Profits4Purpose CEO Jason Burns is excited about what his software can do for the credit union community.

“Credit unions distinguish themselves on community service,” said Burns. “But banks are saying, ‘Here are our CSR numbers. What are you doing?’ Credit unions are doing the work, but often they don’t have the technology or the strategy to turn it into a compelling story.”

Profits4Purpose will help credit unions discover opportunities to give and serve, track their impact, and aggregate that impact into evocative stories. “What excites me,” said Burns, “is here’s a group of credit unions that’s very collaborative by nature and strategy. They might not have the resources to do everything they want to do, but they have the spirit. By coming together on the Profits4Purpose platform, not only can they show their impact individually, we can show how powerful credit unions are in the Northwest.”

Launched at Amplify

betaSpace™ was officially launched this morning at Amplify in Spokane, where credit unions got their first look at the Profits4Purpose and LifeCounts services. The betaSpace™ team continues to identify promising startups and assess their strength and potential for Association members. The best companies will be invited into the betaSpace™ program on an annual basis.

“This is just the beginning,” said Stang. “As we curate the fintech field and bring the best new technology to our members through betaSpace™, Northwest credit unions have the chance to leapfrog many other financial institutions. We think credit unions can take the lead in the fintech world and help define a future that’s best for their members.”

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

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