Zest AI Secures Growth Capital to Advance the Next Generation of AI-Automated Underwriting

Co-led by Insight Partners and CMFG Ventures, this investment from new and existing investors will support Zest AI's next phase of growth in the fast-moving lending industry and indicates confidence in the company's capacity for expansion given any economic conditions.

Zest AI, the leader in automating underwriting with more accurate and inclusive lending insights powered by AI, announced recently that the company had raised over $50 million in a new growth round. The 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.

Zest 280"We're working to build a better future for the financial services ecosystem where underwriting is swift, equitable, and frictionless across the United States," said Mike de Vere, CEO of Zest AI. "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.

"Zest AI's accelerating growth is a testament to the power and value of its advanced explainable AI technology for loan underwriting," said Lonne Jaffe, Managing Director at Insight Partners. "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."

"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," said Mike Kraus, Principal at CMFG Ventures. "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.

"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." said Darlene Johnson, EVP and Chief Growth Officer at Suncoast Credit Union.

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.

About Zest AI
Zest AI is a tech company on a mission to make fair and transparent credit accessible for everyone. Since 2009, we've worked with financial institutions to provide AI-driven credit solutions to their borrowers. Today we work with all types of lenders — but especially credit unions — to democratize underwriting automation and equitable credit decisioning. Learn more at Zest.ai and connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About CMFG Ventures

CMFG Ventures is the venture capital arm of CUNA Mutual Group, a trusted credit union partner since 1935. More than 95 percent of U.S. credit unions count on CUNA Mutual Group for a wide range of financial products and services, each developed with one goal in mind: To create financial security for hardworking Americans.  CMFG Ventures has invested in over 50 fintechs to help financial institutions grow and provide a brighter financial future for all.  Visit the CMFG Venture's website for more details. To learn more about its Discovery Fund, supporting diversity in fintech, visit here

About Insight Partners

Insight Partners is a global software investor partnering with high-growth technology, software, and Internet startup and ScaleUp companies that are driving transformative change in their industries. As of June 30, 2022, the firm has over $80B in regulatory assets under management. Insight Partners has invested in more than 700 companies worldwide and has seen over 55 portfolio companies achieve an IPO. Headquartered in New York City, Insight has offices in LondonTel Aviv, and Palo Alto. Insight's mission is to find, fund, and work successfully with visionary executives, providing them with right-sized, right-time practical, hands-on software expertise along their growth journey, from their first investment to IPO. For more information on Insight and all its investments, visit insightpartners.com or follow us on Twitter @insightpartners.