In the lending market, retrospective analysis has always played a key role in success. It is how lenders anticipate needs, optimize products, and learn new strategy. It is how they serve their markets and their stakeholders better and how they strengthen their competitive advantage. It is with the same spirit of retrospective reflection that I provide a brief overview of what I consider one of our organization’s most exciting years yet.  

I want to start by saying that 2023 was not an easy year for the lending landscape. Rising rates, underwhelming portfolio performance among many loan categories, and an overarching theme of risk aversion are just some of the dynamics we encountered as we worked with our lending partners. LoanStar has always had an uncanny ability to spot the opportunity in any set of circumstances; and this year, we did just that.  

At LoanStar, we transformed a trying year for our industry into a transformative year of growth for our company. This growth included tremendous team expansion, new platform capabilities, and opportunities to grow our lending and merchant communities in exciting new ways. We were able to achieve all of these milestones by remaining true to our mission: by serving the needs of lenders, merchants, and customers with a dedication that can only be found here.  

If I were to summarize 2023 in a saying, it would be ‘through adversity to the stars.’ Read on for a few of my takeaways from what have been an exciting and unforgettable 12 months.  

Responding to Changing Lending Needs  

This year brought significant shifts in the market, particularly in the asset classes favored by banks and credit unions for lending. At LoanStar, we observed a transition from high-balance, longer-term unsecured loans to a focus on shorter-term unsecured assets, as lenders changed their strategies in response to the interest rate environment. The fluctuating interest rates continue to impact our customers’ cost of funds and, subsequently, the interest rates they offer to borrowers.  

To address this, we focused on strategies to support our lender customers with retention—especially in anticipation of potential refinancing risks as rates are expected to come down in the coming months. Our commitment to flexibility continues to allow our lenders to navigate these changes seamlessly. By offering a variety of products, we empower them to tailor their approach based on their risk profiles and prevailing market conditions. One such example is our Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) offering, which provides our lenders with a secure, collateralized product to offer amid the increased interest in lower-risk lending options.  

Expanding Our Team and Fortifying Our Culture  

It takes a village to swiftly and decisively respond to client needs in such a volatile and ever-changing market. To do so even more effectively, we invested in significant team growth this year—nearly doubling our headcount. Most of this growth was concentrated in lender-facing roles and within the product development function. This expansion has allowed us to remain responsive in implementing product changes and enhancements, and in providing a supportive, value-added experience to our lender clients. The swift development and release of a compelling HELOC offering is one example of the power of our expanded team at work. I am also proud to announce that we have surpassed our revenue targets for the year, showcasing the positive growth trajectory of our company. In a market where some competitors are contracting and laying off staff, we are raising capital and continuing to expand. 

In the midst of tremendous team growth, we have continued to fortify our mission while transforming LoanStar into a destination for FinTech talent. This year, we were proud to be recognized among the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2023 Best Places to Work. Award recipients were ranked on such values as fun, collaborative culture, compensation, benefits, and trust in senior leadership. This distinguished award reminds us that we are best positioned to serve our customers when we are strong as a team.  

Growing Our Lender and Merchant Communities 

Our team wasn’t the only indicator of growth. 2023 also saw tremendous growth in our lender and merchant communities. This year, we formed relationships with 20 new lenders and significantly increased the number of merchants with whom our organization engages. Even more remarkable than their number is the diversity of our lender and merchant relationships. Our new lenders include credit unions and local banks in diverse geographic regions of our nation, and our merchants represent both local businesses and national aggregators. Our customers continued to choose LoanStar this year for the ability to expand their loan offerings beyond their current communities and current products. This expansion underscores the trust our customers place in LoanStar and the value they find in our offerings.  

Doing Well by Doing Good  

One of the things that has always meant the most to me is LoanStar’s commitment to community. This is a principle that originated at the company’s founding, but it is powerfully reinforced each and every day as we work with community credit unions and banks. Our lenders care about their local communities and our shared commitment to this principle is one of the many reasons they have chosen to work with LoanStar.  

Our dedication to the community is manifested in the unique embedded lending offerings we work with our clients to deliver. A few salient examples from this year include programs specifically designed for our Veterans, loan products focused on bringing green and sustainable goods to more communities, offerings that support vehicle accessibility modifications, and even disaster relief loan financing. In all of these programs, we provide an unwavering commitment to fairness and mutual benefit for lenders, merchants, and the customers they serve.   

Moving Confidently Forward to 2024 

This year has taught us, through our own success and that of our customers, that growth is possible in any set of circumstances. As for next year, there are early indicators of a positive lending landscape.  

In particular, we anticipate a more stabilized interest rate environment, which will foster greater predictability for future performance and loan sales. More still, lenders with an existing customer base, especially credit unions, can look forward to increased loyalty from customers seeking deeper engagements with familiar financial institutions—as rate shopping is no longer a workable option.  

Another interesting dynamic we anticipate is an increased use of lending adoption among non-finance businesses. Embedded lending is gaining traction for its ease of implementation and flexibility. As word gets out, we are already seeing a flurry of non-finance entrants. For traditional financial institutions, this means an intensified need for differentiated product offerings that respond to the evolving needs of merchants and their customers.  

No matter what the new year brings, we stand ready to respond with agility on behalf of our clients. Our diversified approach positions us to navigate complex challenges while our unwavering mission reminds us why we’re here. Through it all, MerchantLinQ stands out for its tremendous configurability—a critical success factor in responding to changing market dynamics. 

I want to express my sincere gratitude to our dedicated team, loyal customers, and trusted partners for a remarkable year. I look forward to another year of shared mission and mutual success. Feel free to contact our team with any questions about planning for the upcoming year or how we can help you offer new loan products in 2024!  

Best regards, 


CEO, LoanStar