Discover Partners with ZestFinance to Implement AI-Based Underwriting Platform

Lender will better predict losses and lift approval rates with
increased data variables

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

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

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


ZestFinance Media Contact:
Bruce Upbin

Discover Media Contact:
Jon Drummond

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