USAA dips toe into small-business lending

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USAA has quietly launched a pilot program that refers customers who are seeking small-business credit to a financial startup that specializes in lending to military veterans.

The partnership with StreetShares in Reston, Va., will help fill a gap for USAA, which does not offer small-business loans of its own.

San Antonio-based USAA declined to comment on the pilot program, which launched earlier this fall, saying that it is too early to provide additional information. The company’s website states that small businesses may qualify for StreetShares loans if they have been in operation for a minimum of a year and are generating annual revenue of at least $25,000.

Much like USAA, StreetShares markets its products to current and former members of the U.S. armed forces. The 5-year-old company offers small-business loans and lines of credit of up to $250,000.

Under the pilot program, USAA customers are eligible for discounts on origination fees when they borrow from StreetShares. USAA receives marketing fees, according to its website.

“In the U.S. there are nearly 3 million U.S. veterans who own small businesses, so USAA and StreetShares working together makes perfect sense,” StreetShares said in an emailed statement.

In an interview, StreetShares CEO Mark Rockefeller said that his company is pursuing partnerships with other banks that may differ from its arrangement with USAA.

Under potential future deals, StreetShares would likely provide its technology to banks, which would then make their own credit decisions and retain the risk on their own balance sheet, he said.

StreetShares is one of numerous fintech companies that are seeking to license technology to banks that want to digitize their lending operations.

In January, StreetShares announced a $23 million equity funding round led by Rotunda Capital Partners of Bethesda, Md.

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