Zest AI Doubles Down on Credit Union Market for AI Underwriting

September 22, 2021

Zest AI Doubles Down On Credit Union Market For AI Underwriting

* Company receives CUSO status
* Raises equity from the Curql Fund
* More credit union customers join Zest’s growing family of AI underwriting clients


Los Angeles, Calif., September 22, 2021 -- Zest AI, a leader in AI-powered software for underwriting, today announced a series of moves that underscore its commitment to the credit union industry. Zest received registered status as a Credit Union Service Organization or CUSO; received an equity investment from the Curql Fund, the largest venture fund for the CU industry; and welcomed more top credit unions to the Zest family of customers.

“Credit unions are our fastest growing customer segment, and I’ll tell you why: Credit unions want to enrich their communities by saying ‘yes’ to more of their members. AI-driven lending helps them do that faster and with more confidence. Credit unions that use Zest software are going to have a major advantage over banks and fintechs,” says Zest AI CEO Mike de Vere.

"We're convinced the future of underwriting will be based on machine learning,” said Bob Birr, VP, Chief Lending Officer at Credit Union West in Glendale, Arizona. “We looked at a range of ML options, and Zest AI provided the biggest impact in terms of higher funded loan approvals and reduced risk across cards, auto loans, and personal loans. Partners like Zest can help us improve the member and employee lending experience and fulfill our vision of being our members' trusted financial services provider for life."

Achieving CUSO status makes it even easier for credit unions and other CUSOs to work with Zest by establishing the Zest team as a trusted partner and participant in the CU community. In just the past few weeks, Zest welcomed GreenState Credit Union, HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union, Credit Union West, and IH Credit Union to the family of CUs making better decisions with Zest software. By year-end, across its client base, Zest software will be powering underwriting for a combined 10 million members, making Zest the trusted option for the CU community.

Zest also announced a new investment from Curql Collective’s venture capital fund Curql Fund, the largest venture capital fund in the credit union space, to close out its Series E round at $40 million. “Zest AI is bringing meaningful change to credit unions and better experiences for their members through technology, and we couldn’t be happier to support that mission,“ said Nick Evens, President and CEO of Curql Collective.

About Zest AI

Zest AI software helps lenders make better decisions and better loans—increasing revenue, reducing risk, and automating compliance. Zest AI was founded in 2009 with the mission of making fair and transparent credit available to everyone and is now the leader in software for more inclusive underwriting. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at www.zest.ai and connect with us on Twitter at @Zest_AI or Zest AI's Insights blog.

About Curql Collective

Curql Collective is a collaborative approach that brings venture capital, credit unions, and fintech together. Launched in 2020, Curql is steered by a collective of forward-thinking credit unions, including former founders, operators, and leaders in the fintech and VC spaces. The group's flagship, Curql Fund I, invests in the visions of entrepreneurs who thoughtfully and purposefully develop financial services technology that revolutionizes and innovates how people engage with their money. For more information, visit https://www.curql.com/.

About Next Level Ventures

Next Level Ventures (NLV) is a venture capital firm investing in seed to growth-stage technology companies. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, NLV manages over $300 million in assets within two strategies, making it one of the largest venture capital firms in the Midwest. Its Iowa Funds support a strategy to back the state’s most innovative technology companies in Healthtech, AgTech, Fintech, and more. Its Curql Fund, the nation’s largest credit union-backed VC fund, implements a strategy to connect high-quality fintech companies to NLV’s network of forward-thinking credit unions.

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