Baidu has made its second investment in a U.S. FinTech company inside a month after it put an undisclosed sum of money into US-based ZestFinance to launch credit scoring platform.
The deal is part of an agreement that will see Baidu use ZestFinance’s technology to develop a credit scoring platform based on its search data. That’s important in a market like China where traditional credit systems are underdeveloped. According to Techcrunch, there’s precious little formalized credit history data while many people don’t use banks heavily or are unbanked. With the internet becoming mainstream in China, which has the largest ‘web population’ on the planet, new opportunities to vet and verify potential customers for credit have emerged.
“ZestFinance’s unique ability to analyze and process complex, disparate data to make accurate credit decisions is very valuable to the Chinese credit market, where a centralized credit scoring system has yet to emerge,” added Tony Yip, global head of investment, mergers and acquisitions at Baidu, said via a statement.
ZestFinance was founded by ex-Google CIO and VP of engineering Merrill, and it uses machine learning and big data to transform information into measurements and signals for credit scoring. It has raised nearly $100 million from investors, with its most recent raise a $20 million Series C round in July 2013. JD.com also put money in as part of its strategic partnership last summer.