If so, that's an excellent observation...save these two important points: 1) There's a better chance of me wearing a Lady Gaga meat dress than my wife reading my blog; and 2) The old flame I'm referring to is the company CreditKarma.
Several years ago, OpenSourceCU brought my attention to an internet startup company called CreditKarma. The site was great, offering free credit scores to consumers within minutes of signing up. You also received a ton of tools to help you understand what your score means, how it compares to your peers, and how you can improve upon it. The catch was really no catch at all. Based on your credit score, CreditKarma displayed affiliate financial services advertisements for which you qualified.
Theretofore, it had always frustrated me that credit scores, which were so vital to consumers' financial lives, were so hard (and expensive) to get and understand. I loved CreditKarma, and wanted my credit union to embrace it. Alas, it was extremely difficult to make the case that sending members to a site that cross sells competitor products and services was a brilliant business move for our credit union (I still argue that it's our duty as credit unions to get this information to members as affordably as possible, that we should want our members to get the best deal possible no matter who it's from, and that this model works for Progessive Insurance...but I wasn't going to win that argument.)
That's why I was so excited about CreditKarma's email. After spending some time kicking the tires of their new white label service, and talking with CreditKarma staff, I think it's time for credit unions to give them another look.
- They've grown. CreditKarma now serves over 2 million members. Credit unions can display ads with either CPM or CPC pricing basis to market to members and potential members based on zip code, credit score, and other data. Until credit unions embrace this service, these 2 million members will see only ads from big banks. Now is a great time for credit unions to compete for their business.
- They're all yours. With the launch of their new while label offering, credit unions are able to provide members with credit score information, various credit score analyses, and targeted offers based on credit worthiness without directing them to competing services.
- They can help you create a stronger borrower base. The quality of your loan portfolio depends on helping members improve their scores. It's always bothered me when credit unions spend more time and effort trying to attract new members than they do developing and deepening their relationships with existing members. You could spend a fortune marketing outside your credit union to attract high quality borrowers. I'd suggest that spending those dollars on improving members' credit profiles makes more sense.
If credit unions want to remain competitive in an evolving marketplace, we need to do a better job of seeking out innovative services. This doesn't mean purchasing every new idea that comes along (or any of them), it simply means exploring them, evaluating their impact on your members, and deciding whether or not there's a business case for your credit union to adopt them.
(Personal note: I don't do paid product reviews on this blog. Never have, and never will. I wrote about CreditKarma because I like the service, and believe it can help credit unions.)