A Sydney-headquartered tech company styling itself as an "AI brain for a bank" has raised US$17.5 million ($26.4 million) in a Series B round led by Westpac (ASX: WBC) and cloud banking group nCino (NASDAQ: NCNO), securing capital in a challenging funding environment to accelerate Rich Data Co's (RDC) expansion in North America.
Founded in 2016 by Ada Guan, Charles Guan, Michael Coomer and Gordon Campbell, RDC uses explainable artificial intelligence (AI) to provide banks with deeper insight into borrower behaviour, enabling more accurate and efficient lending decisions to businesses.
RDC's first markets were overseas, including Vietnam, China and North America, and it wasn't until 2020 that it officially entered its home market here in Australia, partnering with National Australia Bank (ASX: NAB) to innovate its small business lending capabilities, while also developing an AI and data roadmap for neobank Judo (ASX: JDO).
The company has also helped Westpac's Australian business lending operations to harness AI in accelerating lending coverage of existing customers, and in 2021 the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) used RDC to establish an innovative lending product.
The latest round, building on a US$14 million ($21.1 million) Series A in 2020, was also supported by a reinvestment from Australian funds management firm BMYG and new Singapore-based investor Octava Fund.
RDC's links to North Carolina-headquartered nCino stem from a global resale deal struck with the group late last year, enabling nCino’s business and commercial lending customers to enhance the lending process with AI decisioning and greater intelligence.
"With this investment we are strengthening our relationship with Westpac and deepening our partnership with nCino," says RDC CEO and co-founder Ada Guan.
"Securing such a significant amount of investment within challenging fundraising conditions, speaks to the opportunity that Rich Data Co’s AI Decisioning Platform offers the industry, which is pleasingly being recognised by our investors.
"Now that the B round has closed, we can get on with doing what we love to do and that is disrupt current lending approaches and grow our industry leadership in the exciting AI Decisioning space. I am incredibly proud of our people and our growing team of industry and AI experts."
Davis Brannan, EVP of ecosystem and strategic growth at nCino, says partnerships are an important part of the group's business strategy as they help with innovation and delivering value to customers even more quickly.
"We see the technology from RDC supporting elements of our nIQ and intelligence capabilities, and we’re excited to strengthen our collaboration with this investment," says Brannan.
Westpac's managing director of business lending, Shane Howell, says since January the bank has benefited from partnering with RDC, enabling faster decisions for customers by using RDC's decisioning tool and advanced analytic techniques.
Howell says this means "cash is in our customers hands quicker, particularly important in these economic times".
"At Westpac, our ambition is to enable Australian businesses to achieve their goals. We strive to support our customers with the right solutions and a seamless banking experience so they can focus on their business," Howell says.
"Westpac’s investment in RDC reflects our strategy to pursue meaningful capability partnerships, investments and acquisitions. With the rapid evolution of AI, our strategic investment not only enhances our business lending offer but also allows us to stay close to global developments as RDC scales internationally," adds Anthony Potts, Westpac's head of strategic investments.
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