From Daily Press by Sandra J. Pennecke

Rob Keatts, executive vice president, chief strategy and information officer for Chartway Credit Union, and president of the newly formed Chartway Ventures. (Courtesy photo)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Virginia Beach-based Chartway Credit Union launched a way to invest in ventures that can drive innovation and returns for its members.

Chartway Ventures, a wholly-owned credit union service organization, launched in December.

Chartway Ventures President Rob Keatts said the idea came to fruition because leaders see the value in partnering with other fintechs, or financial technology firms.

After a number of conversations, some fintechs expressed a need for funding and investment, Keatts said.

“So, we stepped back, looked at it and saw the opportunity,” he said. “It just kind of felt like a natural fit for what we were doing and the conversations we were already having.”

Keatts, who is also executive vice president chief strategy and information officer for Chartway Credit Union, said they see it as a benefit to the credit union long-term, which is a benefit to their members.

“That’s really important to us — making sure that all of the investments we make really do allow us to come back, serve our members and serve the communities that we’re in,” he said.

Keatts said they are actively looking for their first investment but are taking a very measured growth strategy. Investments will be selected based on their innovative approach, scalability, compatibility with Chartway’s operations and potential for strong economic returns for credit union members.

By federal regulation, the credit union is allowed to put 1% of its assets into the service organization, he said.

“We’re roughly a $2.7 billion asset credit union, so that would be $27 million,” he said. “We have no plans on doing $27 million worth of investments anytime soon. This will be a very measured thing over time with probably a couple of investments a year.”

Each investment will vary depending on the company’s needs and the organization’s confidence in their ability to move forward, Keatts said.

Chartway Ventures is managed by a five-person board of industry experts, including Brian Schools, president and CEO, Chartway Credit Union, and Steve Warnecke, Chartway board member and chair of the ventures board.

Schools said in a news release that Chartway is excited to see the effect the venture makes on the credit union community.

“Developing our own CUSO will allow us to drive innovation, foster collaboration, generate revenue and reduce costs, all of which help better serve our members,” Schools said.

Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836,