Zest AI raises investment from Vystar Credit Union, First National Bank of Omaha
Zest AI, which provides software for credit underwriting, has gained an $18 million capital injection led by VyStar Credit Union and First National Bank of Omaha, plus returning investor, Northgate Capital.
The Los Angeles-based provider says the funds will be used to accelerate the adoption of its Model Management System for creating and deploying AI-based credit underwriting models.
Zest will also use the investment to focus on algorithmic fairness, with the goal of removing bias from consumer lending decision-making.
As part of the funding injection, VyStar’s Chief Lending Officer, Jenny Vipperman, is joining Zest’s board of directors.
VyStar is the 13th largest credit union in the US, with more than 765,000 members and assets of more than $11 billion. It is the largest mortgage lender in Northeast Florida
Zest’s target market is banks and credit unions, with its software intended to go beyond the statistical and data limitations of traditional credit scores to identify good borrowers who are often overlooked by traditional techniques.
It claims its models generate up to 20% more approval rates without additional risk, and up to 50% reductions in charge-offs by using more data and machine learning.
VyStar’s Vipperman says: “Our job is to invent new and better ways to serve our members. To me that means fairer, faster, and more accurate credit decisions. This investment will help ensure that more credit unions can make the same leap forward.”
Zest AI CEO, Mike de Vere, says credit unions are the fastest growing portion of his company’s customer base.
Earlier this month, Zest was selected by credit union-owned CUNA Strategic Services as its provider of AI-driven lending to credit unions nationwide.