How Do QCash Small Dollar Loans Help Member Health?

Payday loans have not been received very favorably recently, by either the general populace nor by the legislature. And yet, at QCash, we still see small dollar loans as an important aspect of credit union member health. Why do we continue to hold this viewpoint?


We understand that financial health means different things to different people. Recently, we read a study that claimed that around 44% of Americans couldn’t come up with $400 cash in an emergency. To us, this indicates that most Americans do not have access to an extra influx of money to aid them with anything that might come up. While we might most often think of financial health as a product of income, savings, wealth management, and planning for the future, we know that for many people it means having flexibility and options. They want to know that, regardless of their cash flow, if something comes up that requires a little extra money, they’ll be able to take care of it.

Financial Health is a Road Trip

Everyone’s destination is a little bit different. In the game of Life, some of us want to retire to Millionaire Estates, while others want to retire to Countryside Acres. How we get there will differ, and how the game ends may also be a little different, but in the end, we’re working toward the same goals: a happy life with enough financial stability that can last us.

The road to financial health is also littered with obstacles, pit stops, detours, and—we hope—a few great restaurants. We keep in mind that many hard-working, responsible Americans sometimes struggle to cover sudden costs or loss of income stemming from medical emergencies, car troubles, and job transitions. In such times, it’s better to have options. Safe options. Options that don’t come at the predatory rates endemic to payday loan centers. Options presented by the same people who provide their other banking services. Options that come with the comfort and security that only their credit union can afford them.

Each member’s route to financial health is unique, so we want to offer as many possible routes to success as we can. Whether someone needs it or not, having access to an emergency small dollar loan has helped thousands of credit union members per month. It’s not just for the foreseeable obstacles that pop up—it’s for the nasty surprises. Members can get small, fast loans when they need them most.

Institutional Health

 At QCash, we also consider small dollar loans a boon to credit unions. It expands the portfolio of services that they can provide, and it keeps credit union members from jeopardizing their financial health by pursuing loans at less-reputable payday loan centers.

We’ve proven that the loans we provide, at the rates we suggest, are a net positive for credit unions. Our service is faster and requires less overhead than traditional payday loan services, which allows us to offer little lifelines to those in need. Nevertheless, we emphasize the financial health of your members, because we understand that healthy members mean a healthy credit union.

 

Are QCash and Payday Loans the Same Thing?

What are the Benefits of Credit Union Payday Lending?

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How Does QCash Partner with Fintechs?

In the world of financial technology, it’s important to know that companies can form partnerships to better serve their clients. So how does QCash partner with other fintech companies?

Imagine a world where fintech companies received report cards. Not just the usual A, B-, C+, or D nonsense, but a report card with healthy evaluative comments on it. Both in preschools and in elite academic institutions, we know such methods of evaluation are still alive and well. While it’s certainly easy to take comfort in the knowledge that it’s possible to receive a passing grade by keeping your nose down, working hard, and offering consistent, dependable work, there’s always that last area: group projects. Group projects demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively, manage shared goals, and build something larger and more comprehensive, in a shorter timeline, than would be feasible by a lone wolf.

Most people don’t like group projects in school because students are notorious for bringing different levels of energy and care to a job. Fortunately, the professional level at which we operate is replete with dedicated professionals with skin in the game. We at QCash believe that the ability to work closely—and partner—with others in the financial industry is paramount to providing seamless, integrated solutions to credit unions members nationwide. We’re certain that, were we to receive a written grade, it would say that we have a strong ability to facilitate effective, mutually beneficial group work (or, in preschool terms, that QCash “plays well with others”).

What Do Fintech Partnerships Accomplish?

We understand that other fintech Credit Union Service Organizations (CUSOs) can partner for various reasons. We see synergies in the solutions that different companies provide. In areas where companies dovetail, the may be able to work together to offer a new service that would have taken too many resources to do in-house.

For example, we look to provide small-dollar and payday lending that benefits both credit unions and their members. This requires that we minimize the amount of overhead required to evaluate and approve loans. We’ve talked with several alternate data providers about how to tweak operations for underwriting loans, which will allow us to better service new members and streamline the loan process. We’ve found that working with other fintech companies allows us to identify new ways we can serve our clients.

Ideally, strong partnerships among fintech CUSOs result in complementary products and services: one picks up where the other leaves off. QCash is poised to utilize the work of many other fintechs and, in return, make their products more actionable.

Examples of Working Partnerships

 We’ve already mentioned our relationship with data companies and how they help us better underwrite small-dollar loans, but our partnerships don’t end there. We also talk with international financial companies—with Canadian fintechs, for example—to see how we can expand our service. Another organization we’ve worked with is OnApproach. By connecting with their data lake, and through leveraging their newly released app store, we’ve looked into creating a QCash app that’s accessible to their clients.

We appreciate working with other fintech companies because, although we know we provide a good service on our own, we know that we can often build something stronger together. Through mutually-beneficial, complementary capabilities, we can provide solutions that do more and reach further. An A+ isn’t enough. We also want “plays well with others.” It’s better for everyone.

What is a Small Dollar Loan?

Payday Loans Good or Bad for Borrowers?

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Outcomes Won’t Match Intentions: The NCUA Needs to Keep It Simple With Payday Alternative Loans (PALs).

Payday Alternative LoansThe third agenda item for the NCUA’s May Board Meeting is a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Part 701, Payday Alternative Loans” This discussion will focus on the following:

The NCUA is preparing an amendment to the NCUA’s general lending rule to provide federal credit unions (FCUs) with an additional option to offer Payday Alternative Loans (PALs). This proposal would not replace the current PALs rule, but rather would be an alternative, with differing terms and conditions, for FCUs to offer PALs to their members. Specifically, this proposal (PALs II) would differ from the current PALs rule by modifying the minimum and maximum amount of the loans, eliminating the minimum membership requirement, and increasing the maximum maturity for these loans. All other features of the current PALs rule would be incorporated into PALs II. The proposal would also pose specific questions to solicit comments and feedback from interested stakeholders on the possibility of creating a third alterative (PALs III), which could include differing fee structures, loan features, maturities, and loan amounts

While I’m happy to see the NCUA taking action on PALs, I’m equally concerned that our friends in Washington are making things a little too complicated.

Consumers are attracted to predatory lenders for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the simplicity of both the product and the process. If we want to pull members back from these lenders, we have to match them in simplicity. I can see no advantage to the member in creating multiple PAL options. In fact, I suspect having too many choices will drive members away from credit union short-term lending, back into the welcoming arms of the (very simple) predatory lenders.

Each small dollar loan tells a story that many of us have had to experience or can at least understand. If we can just take a moment to really understand the member journey and the use cases for when a small dollar loan is needed, the product requirements would be clear, simple and lead to common-sense regulation.

At QCash Financial we have seen credit unions confused on how to apply the PAL program in conjunction with the Military Lending Act (MLA) requirements. This confusion has led to lengthy compliance reviews and many legal opinions. Just imagine if we’re forced to reconcile multiple PAL options with the MLA. I predict that credit unions will opt out and not provide the service due to the risk of non-compliance. Credit unions will lose, and so will their members. This is exactly what happened to banks about 15-years ago when regulators were very prescriptive in their small dollar guidelines.

Let’s not add more complexity to a product that is clearly in the credit unions wheel house. I urge you to send a message to the NCUA to use a common-sense approach that is based on real feedback from those credit unions who are leaders in creating financial inclusion through their small dollar loan programs.

Vote for common sense regulation and make your thoughts known. Please join the discussion below.

May 30, 2018

by Ben Morales, QCash CEO

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The Importance of Promoting Small-Dollar Lending and Employee Wellness.

By Ben Morales, CEO of QCash Financial

In a recent Prudential survey regarding consumers’ perspectives on financial wellness, only 22 percent of individuals in the United States described themselves as feeling financially secure. Employers such as credit unions have a stake in this because the impact of employee financial instability does not stop at the company door. Many credit unions were and continue to be founded to serve groups of people who had a common interest or bond, such as an employer. These were called select employer groups (SEGS). Promoting employees’ and SEGs’ financial wellness should be an important business objective for credit unions, since it has a negative impact on employee productivity in the short-term, and eventually employees’ retirement preparedness. Employees without sufficient financial stability often turn to expensive payday loans to manage their cash flow issues, which eventually creates a cycle of debt that adversely impacts their productivity, morale and financial wellness.

Benefits to credit unions as employers

Many credit unions and employers in general are unaware of the potential benefits of promoting employees’ financial wellness. According to Prudential, studies have shown that better financial wellness equates to increased productivity in the workplace. Roughly 44 percent of employees worry about finances at work, and 46 percent spend between two and three hours a week on personal financial matters; see “Power of the Wellness Effect” . Financial instability also impacts employees’ potential for retirement.  In 2012, employees withdrew $70 billion in from retirement accounts before reaching retirement age. This equates to 59 percent of employers’ matching dollars contributed to those accounts that same year; “Power of the Wellness Effect“. Even a one-year increase in retirement age costs employers about as much as sick and personal leave days combined. When credit unions promote employees’ short-term financial stability, it translates to cost savings when employees get closer to retirement.

What can credit unions do?

As providers of employee benefits, credit unions are viewed by their employees as trusted partners who can help employees achieve financial wellness.  Traditional workplace benefits programs are expanding to include new, complementary financial wellness approaches.  These programs focus on foundational financial issues, such as budgeting, debt management, saving and investing, and protecting against key financial risks. Credit unions may be familiar with offering SEGs paycheck advance programs, but many organizations are unable to support them. Alliances with trusted partners to offer employee small-dollar lending programs that provide an alternative to traditional payday lending can fill this need. According to PEW Charitable Trusts, more than 12 million Americans turn to payday loans annually, demonstrating a strong need for better solutions to these expensive products.  Employees with access to instant liquidity solutions, such as inexpensive small-dollar loan products are often able to budget and manage debt more effectively.

 

Defining these goals

In order to reach financial wellness, consumers must first be in control of their day-to-day financial needs. This often involves creating monthly and annual budgets based on income and expenses, then limiting their expenditures to remain within the budget. Controlling day-to-day needs also means consumers are financially prepared to cover an unexpected expense on short notice. Many times, a one-time unexpected expense of even a few hundred dollars can completely derail this financial stability, causing consumers to turn to payday lenders for their financial needs. Achieving important financial goals of saving or making the move from renting to owning a home can often get sidetracked by these unexpected expenses, which can be compounded by the cost of payday loans. This frequently causes the next unexpected expense to have an even more profound impact. The final element of financial wellness is protecting against key financial risks, such as an economic downturn, the loss of a job or a serious illness, which is extremely difficult when consumers are living hand-to-mouth.

Short-term stability is an important element of an employees’ overall financial wellness. Employees with access to small-dollar lending solutions through their trusted credit unions have better opportunities to manage their short-term financial goals, which enables them to achieve long-term financial goals. As financially stable individuals, employees are better equipped to focus on work and can retire on time. Small-dollar lending is an important part of this equation and can have a profound impact on employees’ financial health.

 

QCash Payday vs Small Dollar Loans: What’s the Difference?

If Payday Lenders Disappear, Will Americans Survive?


Ben Morales is the CEO of QCash Financial. QCash Financial is a CUSO providing automated, cloud-based, omni-channel small-dollar lending technology that enables financial institutions to provide short-term loans quickly to the people they serve. QCash Financial, a wholly owned subsidiary of WSECU in Olympia, Wash., started as a short-term loan solution for the credit union’s members in 2004.

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