Tulsa Teachers Credit Union, a $2.5 billion-asset financial institution in Oklahoma, saw $13.6 million in loan growth last year following the integration of SavvyMoney, an embedded credit solution, into its banking app.
SavvyMoney, based in Dublin, California, lets banks and credit unions offer comprehensive credit score analysis, full credit reporting, and monitoring to their customers free of charge, as well as personalized loan offers, straight from the bank’s own app.
Since adding SavvyMoney to the TTCU app, the credit union has seen 43% of its enrolled members boost their credit score by at least one credit tier, said Jeff Baenziger, TTCU’s vice president of digital strategies, calling it a win-win for members and the institution alike.
“This allows TTCU to create a deeper relationship with our members by offering products they would not have previously qualified for,” he said. “It also places the credit union in a better position to provide the personalized financial guidance our members are looking for as we seek to be their trusted source for financial solutions.”
The success of SavvyMoney for its customers is more than just a case of “knowledge is power,” Baenziger said, and it provides more than just a snapshot of one’s credit in time. Its credit score simulator tool, for example, allows members to simulate how their credit score might be impacted if they make a specific financial decision; and the personalized credit score action plan prioritizes what a member must do to get a bump in their score.
Based on the information it has access to — SavvyMoney pulls a customer’s credit profile from TransUnion and also uses VantageScore 3.0, a collaboration between the three major credit bureaus — the solution also connects users to loan offerings available to them through their financial institution.
The widget “put[s customers] in the driver’s seat when choosing to apply,” Baenziger said.
Years ago, JB Orecchia, SavvyMoney’s founder and CEO, was part of the original team at FreeCreditReport.com, the genesis of internet credit report offerings. Down the line, some of the nation’s largest banks began offering credit score products to customers, and Orecchia wanted to create a solution that bolstered the same capabilities at credit unions and community banks.
“If [a small bank] doesn’t have a credit product built into its digital banking, [customers are] going to go to a third party website, or a big bank who offers credit score products to engage the user with their brand. What do they get out of it? New customers,” he said. “I felt this is table stakes for the credit union and community bank industry. For one, everyone needs to educate their consumers how to manage their credit because it’s better for the overall ecosystem, and a lot of time, [small FIs] have great financial products.”
SavvyMoney partners with 1,055 financial institutions across the country, and integrates with 40 digital banking platforms like Fiserv, helping increase the loan portfolio of smaller FIs and the credit health of their members.
Since Bank of Travelers Rest, a $709 million-asset community bank in South Carolina, integrated SavvyMoney into its banking app, it’s helped make “better customers, better customers” and added value to their relations with the bank, said Eric Wall, the bank’s senior vice president and marketing director.
“That way when the time comes that they do need to borrow money to fund a life event or, God forbid, an emergency, they have been savvy in how they have managed their money…but more importantly their credit report which will provide them access to the funds they may need,” he said.
One thing Bank of Travelers Rest opted out of with SavvyMoney, however, was advertising loans through the SavvyMoney platform.
While Wall said the bank “certainly needs loans to function,” its strategy in integrating SavvyMoney was to provide the tools to customers.
“At the onset, we felt that trying to bring in additional loan business might work to bring in loans, but what is it doing to the customer who may be on the borderline? As a relationship-based bank, we want to provide SavvyMoney as a tool, not as a trigger to borrow more,” Wall said. “If it makes sense for the customer, then we want to have that talk with them so that we can understand their goals and how we can help get them there.”
The availability of credit solutions in-app is also a matter of cybersecurity, Wall said.
“[W]ith so many fraudulent websites and attempts to gain private consumer information, giving customers access to their report through our secure online banking login means they are not going elsewhere where a connection isn’t safe or where the site/service isn’t totally bogus,” he noted.
In 2021, the fintech closed a $45 million funding round led by growth equity firm Spectrum Equity. TransUnion also participated in the funding round. Orecchia told Banking Dive the funding was largely used for talent, with a focus on team growth, product development and security.
“Because we’re dealing with credit data and the consumers of banks and credit unions, we doubled down on that in a big way,” he said. “We are very thorough when it comes to security an compliance — we’re Tier 1 with TransUnion, meaning we have the highest level of compliance and security.”