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Tru Circle: A social, peer-to-peer lending solution for the underserved and underbanked

Through a series of research assignments and interviews, 15 credit union professionals created Tru Circle, a peer-to-peer lending solution for the underserved and underbanked.

Executive Summary

On June 16, 2012, fifteen eager, young, and good-looking credit union professionals from all over the U.S. descended on San Diego to “crash” CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference (ACUC). The band of under-30s devoted their free time away from the conference to innovating a new solution to a vexing problem. How can credit unions better serve the underserved and underbanked?

What is the research about?

In this brief, The Cooperative Trust looks ahead based on the past year of development for their solution: Tru Circle - a social, peer to peer lending solution that allows participants to lean on each other, instead of the financial institution. As a follow up to the report on Using Design Thinking to Serve the Underserved, this brief dives further into the nuts and bolts of Tru Circle and the templates of success for serving this market within credit unions.

What are the credit union implications?

Begin thinking beyond the value(s) that your credit union staff can offer and learn to utilize the connections among your individual community members. By encouraging groups of this market to lean on one another, there is a safe haven the credit union is offering without added risk. There should be a level of pride attained by the credit union’s ability to take a step back as the relationship expert and pass the baton to the peer group members within a Tru Circle. Accountability among friends within a Tru Circle is going to trump any authority a collections department could have.

This report is sponsored by The Cooperative Trust.