CUNA Mutual launches an incubator

Plans to develop solutions for credit unions

Madison-based mutual insurance company CUNA Mutual Group has launched an incubator to develop products and services for credit unions – its core customer base.

The FinTech Catalyst Incubator is being spearheaded by CMFG Ventures, CUNA’s venture capital affiliate, and Madison-based Filene Research Institute. It will remotely enroll about four startup companies per year on a rolling basis to experiment with fintech and insurtech ideas to drive solutions and innovations. The ideas will be vetted in six-month pilots among groups of five to 12 differentiated credit unions, with the potential for CUNA or the credit unions to commercialize the solutions, a spokesman said.

Filene, an independent consumer finance think tank, plans to help credit unions test particular hypotheses, gather feedback from the startups and credit unions, and publish its findings and recommendations after the experiments.

CMFG has identified three startups for the incubator already: Align, which offers an income share agreement as a loan alternative for credit unions with low or fluctuating income levels; Finhabits, which is studying retirement savings habits among various demographics; and Steady, which is “exploring the future of work.” It has also encouraged other startups to apply for the program.

“Tomorrow’s financial products and services are being funded, supported and validated by CMFG Ventures today to improve the financial stability of credit union members in the future,” said Brian Kaas, managing director of CMFG Ventures. “We are committed to the success of our entrepreneur partners and that commitment goes beyond funding, which is why we’re so pleased to partner with one of the country’s leading research organizations, Filene Research Institute, to test companies and ideas for desirability, viability and feasibility.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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