CMFG Ventures backs AI for lending startup Zest AI

Zest AI has raised over $50 million in a new growth round, bringing its total funding to $300 million. The round was co-led by existing global software investor Insight Partners and new investor TruStage Ventures , with participation from CU Direct, Curql, Suncoast Credit Union, Golden1 Credit Union, Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union, and NorthGate Capital.

Founded in 2009, the CA-based company (team of ~110) plans to use the new funding to expand access to its AI-automated credit underwriting for all lenders. “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.”

The company is on target to nearly double its customer base in 2022 after tripling it in 2021. Partners include Citibank, First National Bank of Omaha, Truist, Golden 1 Credit Union, Suncoast Credit Union, and Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union.

“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.” – Mike Kraus, Principal at CMFG Ventures.

“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.” – Darlene Johnson, EVP and Chief Growth Officer at Suncoast Credit Union.