DES MOINES, IOWA —
Innovation is a passion for bringing new things to life. So it’s fitting that a collective of credit unions, the movement that transformed financial services generations ago, has joined together to spur innovation in financial technology.
The credit unions of Members Development Company (MDC) recently launched a collaborative CUSO and venture capital fund Curql, pronounced “circle.” The CUSO’s Curql Fund I will provide strategic venture capital for the development of financial services technology for the credit union industry. According to Craig Ibsen, Managing Partner of Next Level Ventures (NLV), the goal of Curql is to bring strategic solutions to credit unions and enable them to effectively compete in a rapidly changing technology environment.
“Every day there are fintech startups emerging on the scene with new technologies designed for online banking, lending, payments, savings, financial education, digital engagement, cyber security and more,” Ibsen says. “Each offers the potential for members to more easily engage with credit unions and simplify the process for using new services. As this rapid expansion takes place, Curql seeks to bring credit unions into the center of it all, to activate meaningful, experiential change for credit unions and for members through technology.”
In addition to introducing a collaborative solution that benefits both fintech partners and the credit union industry, Curql provides credit unions with an opportunity to invest directly in the Curql Fund. Ibsen sees the move as one that will serve to make the credit union industry more attractive as partners and more relevant, if not the most relevant place for a fintech to find financing, incubation, piloting financial institutions and clients. “Most importantly,” says Ibsen, “it is about credit unions and members. It is about attracting fintech companies that will present strategic value to credit unions and their members.”
As the professional fund manager, Next Level Ventures will help to lead, structure and manage the investments from the Curql Fund in the fintech companies. Previously, NLV invested in two fast-growing CUSOs (Dwolla and LenderClose) and has worked with several credit unions over the last nine years. In that working relationship, NLV has been the largest manager of credit union assets which are invested in venture capital.
To date, more than two dozen credit unions have committed to invest with Curql for a fund investment that the MDC projects will reach $75 million within MDC credit unions alone. As the Curql Fund is open to investments from credit unions outside of MDC, the fund is expected to grow even further. Ibsen says the goal is to expand the fund to between $100 million and $150 million by summer. MDC expects the fund will provide a 100% return on investment within the next ten years.
Curql was created to attract fintech companies to credit unions – to help them see the great opportunities by working with credit unions. If these two groups can collaborate more effectively it will be a great benefit for fintechs, credit unions, and most importantly, their members.
For more information about Curql, please reach out to Craig Ibsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeff Kline at the MDC at email@example.com.
About Curql Collective
Curql Collective is a collaborative approach that brings venture capital, credit unions, and fintech together. Launched in 2020 Curql is steered by a collective of forward-thinking credit unions, including former founders, operators, and leaders in the fintech and VC spaces. The group's flagship, Curql Fund I, invests in the visions of entrepreneurs who thoughtfully and purposefully develop financial services technology that revolutionizes and innovates how people engage with their money. Get more information on Curql.