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Big data + machine learning + human artistry = even better underwriting

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Yesterday our portfolio company Zest Finance rolled out Hilbert, its newest generation of underwriting algorithm, and it got great coverage from both tech and finance oulets.

American Banker leads off with:

Merrill describes Hilbert as ‘ridiculously stunning.’ ‘What I want to do is use math, science and art to give more credit to the underbanked. The goal is to help people save money and develop relationships with loan providers.’

Notes TechCrunch:

As Merrill explains to me, Hilbert increases the quality of underwriting analysis and is able to give more loans to people. The approval rate has doubled, he says. ‘This is a material step forward to give credit to the underbanked to save them money,’ he says.

GigaOm says:

Hence ‘Hilbert,’ ZestFinance’s latest model (named after statistician David Hilbert*) that the company claims ups its accuracy rate to 54 percent higher than the industry standard. It’s able to achieve this improvement by retrofitting its machine-learning algorithms with good, old-fashioned human input — something Merrill refers to as ‘human artistry.’

We are very excited about the ongoing improvements in underwriting that is bringing the promise of available credit to even more people who have traditionally been denied those options.

* Douglas Merrill, CEO of Zest Finance claims Hilbert as a statistician. I think it’s pretty clear that he is actually a mathematician. This is what nerds debate at board meetings.


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