Zest AI Secures Growth Capital to Advance AI-Automated Underwriting

Zest AI, which claims to be the leader in automating underwriting with more accurate and inclusive lending insights powered by AI, announced that the company has “raised over $50 million in a new growth round.”

The investment round was “co-led by existing global software investor Insight Partners and new investor CMFG Ventures, with participation from CU Direct, Curql, Suncoast Credit Union, Golden1 Credit Union, Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union, and NorthGate Capital.”

Mike de Vere, CEO of Zest AI, said:

“We’re working to build a better future for the financial services ecosystem where underwriting is swift, equitable, and frictionless across the United States. Our work is to help our customers efficiently and confidently approve more loans — creating economic opportunities for all consumers.”

Zest AI plans “to use the new funding to rapidly expand access to AI-automated credit underwriting for all lenders.” In broadening access to this technology, Zest AI will “fuel more accurate and consistent underwriting decisions — leveling the playing field for all borrowers and fostering a more inclusive economy.”

Lonne Jaffe, Managing Director at Insight Partners, remarked:

“Zest AI’s accelerating growth is a testament to the power and value of its advanced explainable AI technology for loan underwriting. By using more features, or ingredients, in its prediction system, Zest’s customers can issue more loans, take less risk, and be more inclusive — all while adapting more quickly to changing macroeconomic conditions and explaining loan decisions more effectively. We look forward to doubling down on our partnership with Zest as they rapidly Scale Up.”

Mike Kraus, Principal at CMFG Ventures, added:

“Our credit union partners have found Zest AI’s technology to be a great way to automate their underwriting. Zest not only allows credit unions to make better loan decisions but also expands access to more affordable credit across the credit tiers. The timing for credit unions to adopt more inclusive credit underwriting could not be better, and we’re thrilled to help demonstrate Zest’s value to the industry.”

The company is “on target to nearly double its customer base in 2022 after tripling it in 2021.”

To date, the company has “built over 250 AI-underwriting models.” A number of the most innovative lending organizations, “such as Citibank, First National Bank of Omaha, Truist, Golden 1 Credit Union, Suncoast Credit Union, and Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union, have partnered with Zest AI to modernize their lending business.”

Darlene Johnson, EVP and Chief Growth Officer at Suncoast Credit Union, commented:

“Zest AI is transforming the financial services landscape — in particular, for credit unions and their members. The future of underwriting is automation and the ability to deliver better financial products and superior customer service. Investing in Zest means investing in our members’ financial well being. Our support will fuel the company’s fidelity to advance AI in lending to the benefit of all credit union members from coast to coast.”

As more financial institutions adopt artificial intelligence tools to make better credit decisions, Zest AI is “well-positioned to transform the industry.”

Zest’s technology “uses AI to identify, predict, and remove inherent biases and render more consistent and equitable lending decisions.” The technology “allows customers to approve more borrowers without taking on more risk, resulting in 25 percent increases in approvals and full automation.”

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