Australian AI startup cracks China partnership opportunity
Rich Data Corporation is no ordinary startup. In just three years, the company has opened offices in China and Singapore, secured a strategic partnership with Chinese tech giant Inspur, and completed a multimillion-dollar Series A funding round.
Formed in Sydney in 2016, Rich Data Corp uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help lenders make decisions about whether to give credit to individuals and small businesses. In particular, its technology interprets alternative sources of data to assess people and businesses that might fall outside the usual credit bureau checks.
With the applicant’s permission (consent and the ethical use of data is a big part of the company’s ethos), Rich Data Corp looks at behavioural data – such as transactions with other organisations – to predict how likely the applicant is to repay a loan.
Rich Data Corp’s four founders wanted to use data to solve interesting problems. With experience in the financial services sector, they settled on applying their skills to lending.
A US financial services provider, EZCORP, became one of Rich Data Corp’s angel investors. EZCORP asked Rich Data Corp to work with its Canadian offshoot CashMax as a test bed for the Rich Data Corp approach to prediction and decision-making.
‘The Canadian lender produced a 10 per cent lift in the size of their lending portfolio with no additional risk, and they were lending into subprime segments,’ says Gordon Campbell, Rich Data Corp’s Chief Product Officer and Head of Strategy.
‘On that success EZCORP spawned a follow-on project to launch a completely digital neo-lender brand called Rebel Financial.’
Entering the Chinese market
Rich Data Corp’s chance to break into China came soon after the trial with Rebel Financial. Through contacts at US-based fintech multinational Diebold Nixdorf, Rich Data Corp was introduced to Inspur.
The world’s third largest server manufacturer and a leading provider of cloud solutions to government agencies and enterprises, Inspur manages the IT governance of 110 local government bodies in China. The company has engaged Rich Data Corp to assist banks to use government data to better assess the credit risk of small businesses. This will enable banks to extend credit to more small businesses, a stated mission of the Chinese Government.
‘We are helping banks improve credit assessment so they can confidently lend to small business clients,’ says Ada Guan, Rich Data Corp’s Chief Executive. ‘That’s not only validating our approach, but improving it, as the prediction models become more sophisticated the more real-world examples they’re exposed to.’
Rich Data Corp has also worked with Midea Smart Home, a division of Chinese home appliance provider Midea Global. Rich Data Corp has deployed an AI engine within the Midea Meiju app that delivers accurate, individually tailored recommendations based on the user’s purchasing history and machine learning algorithms.
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