How This UK-Based Fintech Startup Is Using AI Credit Platform To Provide Debt Finance To SMEs

Debt Finance

With each passing year, the fintech sector is providing faster, flexible and secured consumer experience, and is protecting against the risks and vulnerabilities of traditional insurance and loans. In fact, the global fintech market size is expected to grow to $124.3 billion by the end of 2025 at a CAGR of 23.8%.

With a vision of providing small and medium-sized growth companies with debt finance, along with aiding them in competing against the large corporations, UK-based OakNorth is utilising artificial intelligence and machine learning to fulfil the dream. Since its inception, OakNorth has secured over $1 billion from leading investors which has been used to launch lending operations and others such.

Fintech startup, OakNorth was founded by Rishi Khosla and Joel Perlman in May 2015. After meeting each other at college in the year 2002, Khosla and Perlman decided to launch their own business that could solve the challenges they had to face in securing debt finance from high street banks during their previous business — Copal Amba which scaled to 3,000 employees and was later acquired by Moody’s Corporation in 2014. 


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In India, OakNorth has over 450 people across its two offices in Gurugram and Bengaluru. Currently, there are 12 banks and financial institutions using their platform across Asia, North America, Australia, and Europe, with a total asset of $12 billion. According to the founders, the team in India includes some of the best credit analysts, along with engineers and data scientists who integrate into a global product team, all focussed on developing the platform.

Flagship Product

OakNorth’s next-generation credit platform allows traditional financial institutions to improve and accelerate their credit decision and monitoring capabilities significantly. The platform provides improved efficiency, faster growth, and premium pricing. 

Use of AI/ML

According to Khosla, the platform works by collecting millions of data items on SMEs across various parameters, sectors, and markets. It then uses machine learning algorithms to identify data that lenders require to make more informed credit decisions through a detailed line item underwriting.

The team of credit analysts and data scientists gets to manage the process and train the machine learning algorithms so that the platform continues to evolve and get smarter with each day. The platform, therefore, provides OakNorth Bank and its partners around the world with significant process efficiency gains, data-driven decision making, and smarter credit analysis and capabilities.

Core Tech Stack

Asking about the cloud, the founders replied that with the help of Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company can work with the FCA on policy items around data protection, access to data, security and business continuity. In May 2016, it became the UK’s first bank to be fully cloud-hosted.  

Tackling Hiring Phase

With regards to hiring candidates, Khosla and Perlman said, “There are numerous fintech companies across the country that are looking for talent, but the key is to focus on opportunities with businesses with the mission that you believe in and who you believe in standing the test of time.” 

He further added, “If anyone is interested in speaking to us about any of our openings, then one should feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, and I would be delighted to speak to them!”


The future roadmap of OakNorth is to continue the growing loan book in the UK, as well as expand the SME loan origination and credit capabilities of North American banks, and lending institutions as well as helping them build and scale the quality of the SME loan books.

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Ambika Choudhury
A Technical Journalist who loves writing about Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. A lover of music, writing and learning something out of the box.

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