CU Direct’s Journey to Evolution and Innovation


From its beginning 20 years ago until today, the company has both evolved and innovated with the times, much like the credit unions it serves. By looking back, it’s interesting to see that the past provides insight into the future needs of members.

Starting with Modems and Decisions

In 1994, CU Direct began with one goal in mind: to help credit unions gain more auto loans from local dealers. Initially founded on the West Coast, CU Direct’s indirect platform quickly gained the interest of credit unions and dealers across the country. Since then, CU Direct has grown significantly. As of December 2017, there are now 13,000 dealers and more than 1,100 credit union partners using CUDL.

During the early days of CU Direct, high-speed internet access and information clouds didn’t exist. It was a time of sluggish modems and beeping noises. Although the platform has changed considerably, the goal to build a connection between credit unions and dealers always has stayed the same. Credit unions also benefitted from what would become a CU Direct technological crown jewel: Decision Manager.

Decision Manager, CU Direct’s decision engine, was a resounding success. With an easy, user-friendly design and extensive underwriting variables, credit union leaders wondered, “If Decision Manager works so well for indirect lending, then why can’t we use it for direct lending too?”

Lending 360: Designing a Member-centric Lending Experience

The increased demand for Decision Manager in direct consumer lending offered CU Direct the opportunity to develop a loan origination system from the ground up. Incorporating credit union feedback, CU Direct developed the loan origination system Lending 360.

Much like the CUDL indirect lending platform, Lending 360 quickly evolved based on demand and input from credit unions. This vital feedback helped to create a frictionless member lending experience. By offering more configuration, self-service controls, and automation, along with the power of Decision Manager, Lending 360 saw great success. By December 2017, the direct lending platform had grown to more than 1,800 underwriting variables.

Lending 360 grew to be more than a lending solution. By adding new account and deposit products, Lending 360 became a one-stop solution for new and existing members, supporting deposit products and nearly all lending products.

As CU Direct continued to gain the value of information from both dealers and credit unions through CUDL and Lending 360, another interesting opportunity began to develop: the chance to help credit unions benefit from the data they were collecting.

Lending Insights: Connecting Data and the Member Experience

The most recent member-centric solution CU Direct has introduced is Lending Insights. From visual dashboards to reports, Lending Insights provides credit unions a simple way to view their existing data. Credit unions can connect their member data to the benefits of data science, and clearly see loan yield trends, static pool analysis, and delinquencies. In addition, using its Dealer Scorecard, credit unions can get a quick view of the dealers that help drive their vehicle-lending business and serve their members.

The data analytics product CU Direct developed benefits nearly every credit union department from Administration to Service Centers, while reducing the time and effort it takes for those departments to get the data they need.

Voice of the Future

The real reason for CU Direct’s success can be attributed directly to our credit union partners. By continuing to provide a vital voice, our credit union partners spur CU Direct’s evolution and inspire our company to further develop, evolve, and grow.

In the years ahead, we will continue to incorporate this valuable credit union feedback and, in return, provide credit unions the tools they need to further enhance the member experience.

To learn more about the upcoming April credit union forums and any of CU Direct’s lending solutions, please reach out to Justin Weiler at either 714.658.9531 or

Event Details

Credit Union Lending Solutions Forum

April 25th Seattle, WA, and April 26th Portland, OR

Each event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

NWCUA SeaTac Office 18000 International Blvd, LP 16, SeaTac, WA

10220 SW Greenburg Road, Suite 310, Portland, OR

Recommended for credit union C-level and back-office manager professionals.

Note: This event is exclusively only for current credit union professionals.

Cost: Free to all attendees. Lunch will be provided to those who RSVP.

RVSP: Email Justin Weiler at – space is limited

This story is authored by Justin Weiler, Lending Solutions Sales Executive at CU Direct.

Questions about CU Direct and how it can help your members? Contact NWCUA’s Strategic Partnerships Manager Kaitlin Ramos by emailing  

Posted in GoWest Solutions.