The CUSO was formed by Pennsylvania credit unions Clearview Federal Credit Union, West-AirCOMM Federal Credit Union, Allegent Community Federal Credit Union, Riverset Credit Union and Century Heritage Federal Credit Union.
"The key is that Keystone will offer local market knowledge," said Bob Brant Keystone Lending Alliance president/CEO.
Maintaining local control and ownership was the biggest benefit the credit unions saw behind creating the CUSO, Brant said.
The credit unions first explored the idea of forming an auto lending CUSO around six years ago but felt the timing wasn't right. Vince Setnar, executive vice president of Clearview Federal Credit Union and chairman of Keystone, said that all the credit unions then went their separate ways to third-party vendors.
"To be honest we were all pretty disenchanted with the third-party suppliers, so we revisited the idea again about two to three years ago," Setnar explained.
The credit unions enlisted the help of the Houston-based CUSO Credit Union Acceptance Co. for guidance and assistance in getting Keystone up and running. Setnar said CUAC helped them narrow down options in what was a long process that included determining capital contributions and seeing what systems would be available.
In April of 2007, A-K Valley Federal Credit Union, Century Heritage Federal Credit Union, Clearview Federal Credit Union, Erie Federal Credit Union, Pittsburg Central Federal Credit Union and West-AirCOMM Federal Credit Union formed a CUSO called Keystone Business Lending Solution. Setnar said that the experience from that process helped with the formation of Keystone Lending Alliance as well.
Setnar said that they have already received interest in Keystone Lending Alliance from smaller credit unions in the area that like the appeal of having the local market knowledge and control.
"It's a build it and they will come sort of thing," Setnar said. "We've received enough interest from small credit unions that don't have the resources to do something like this themselves."
Setnar said that they will be getting the word out about the CUSO in a combination of different ways.
Brant will be the face and voice of the CUSO and make himself visible and available to local credit unions at meetings and events. Setnar said that they will also be using a grassroots effort since the local credit union market is tight knit.
"The member-owner credit unions of the CUSO are all very proactive and involved, we expect that word will travel fast."
The CUSO will be completely up and running by the end of January or early February. They have completed their credit union and dealer agreements and are in the process of getting the loan origination software up and running and hiring staff.