Discover Partners with ZestFinance to Implement AI-Based Underwriting Platform

RIVERWOODS, Ill. & LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Discover Financial Services, a leading U.S. direct bank and credit card issuer, and ZestFinance, a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) software for underwriting, today announced a partnership to create one of the largest AI-based credit scoring solutions in the financial services industry.

Discover will be using the Zest Automated Machine Learning (ZAML) platform to improve credit underwriting by taking advantage of interpretable machine learning approaches to make more accurate lending decisions.

In a successful trial, Discover and Zest found that the inclusion of more data and artificial intelligence techniques reduced default rates significantly without added portfolio risk.

“A lot of banks struggle just to get their AI out of the lab,” said ZestFinance founder and CEO Douglas Merrill. “Discover is a leader in the financial services industry with the vision to make machine learning core to their business. Using machine learning responsibly means deploying accurate, explainable and fair models.”

“Banks that fail to invest in machine learning will end up fundamentally uncompetitive in a couple of years,” said Roger Hochschild, CEO and president of Discover. “We found the best way to drive benefits faster was to complement our internal efforts with a partnership with Zest.”

The companies expect to put their first ML model into production later this year.

Merrill and Hochschild are scheduled to appear together April 8 at the LendIt Fintech USA conference in San Francisco to discuss key business benefits of matching the latest ML technology with the rich data held by financial institutions.

About ZestFinance

ZestFinance helps lenders use machine learning to develop and launch highly accurate and transparent credit risk models. Zest’s software tools enable our clients to increase revenues, reduce risk, and ensure compliance. ZestFinance was founded in 2009 by Douglas Merrill, the former CIO of Google, and a team of former Google employees with the mission of making fair and transparent credit available to everyone. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. For more information, visit www.ZestFinance.com.

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company issues the Discover card, America’s cash rewards pioneer, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home equity loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through its direct banking business. It operates the Discover Global Network comprised of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation’s leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in 190 countries and territories. For more information, visit www.discover.com/company.

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