Announcements

Zest AI Secures Investment from VyStar Credit Union, First National Bank of Omaha, and Northgate Capital

Zest AI team

June 24, 2021

VyStar Chief Lending Officer Jenny Vipperman to join Zest board

Zest AI, a leader in software for credit underwriting, today announced an $18 million capital injection led by strategic investors VyStar Credit Union and First National Bank of Omaha, along with returning investor Northgate Capital. Zest also announced that VyStar Chief Lending Officer Jenny Vipperman will be joining its board of directors.

Zest software helps banks and credit unions go beyond the statistical and data limitations of traditional credit scores to identify good borrowers who are often overlooked by legacy techniques. Zest-built models generate up to 20% increases in approval rates with no added risk, and up to 50% reductions in charge-offs by using more data and the advanced math of machine learning.

“As financial industry leaders,” says Vipperman, “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.”

The funds will be used to accelerate the adoption of Zest's Model Management System for creating and deploying powerful, explainable, and compliant AI-based credit underwriting models. The investment will also fund Zest's efforts to drive more rigorous technologies and standards around algorithmic fairness, with the goal of de-biasing the consumer lending industry.

Regarding the addition of Jenny Vipperman to the board, Zest AI CEO Mike de Vere said: “Jenny shares our mission to make fair credit available to everyone, and rarely do you meet someone who cares as much as Jenny does about helping others. Jenny also brings deep insight into the specific needs of credit unions -- the fastest-growing portion of our customer base.”

“As financial industry leaders,” says Vipperman, “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.”

This announcement comes as Zest deepens its relationships with credit unions across the country. Earlier this month, Zest was named a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider of AI-driven lending to credit unions nationwide.

About First National Bank of Omaha

First National Bank of Omaha is a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska. First National of Nebraska and its affiliates have more than $23 billion in assets and nearly 5,000 employee associates. Primary banking offices are located in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas. Learn more at fnbo.com and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About VyStar

VyStar Credit Union is the 13th largest credit union in the nation and now serves over 765,000 members with assets totaling more than $11 billion. VyStar is the largest mortgage lender in Northeast Florida and one of the major employers in the region with over 2,000 employees. VyStar membership is open to everyone who lives or works in the 49 contiguous counties of Central to North Florida, 10 Southern Georgia counties and past and present military members and their families all over the world.

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.

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