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A look at ZestMoney — infusing AI for creditworthiness and cardless EMI

A look at ZestMoney — infusing AI for creditworthiness and cardless EMI

Srishti Deoras
Check Out Simulated Reality Podcast With Zest Money CTO & Co Founder Ashish Anantharaman

Calling itself the first-ever in India that facilitates virtual EMI and enables credit without a card, ZestMoney is much more than that. With the right blend of technology and offerings, it makes for one of the fastest developing startups in the country. And talking about it at the analytics platform, ZestMoney brings the flavours of artificial intelligence and analytics.

AIM interacted with Lizzie Chapman, Co-founder and CEO, ZestMoney to explore more on their technological aspect. But before we get going, here’s a few insight about what ZestMoney is all about. To begin with, the founding team at ZestMoney had previously worked together for one of the largest international digital lending companies, where they developed a deep understanding of the technology and risk management methodology required to build scalable digital payment products.

As mentioned, working on the ideology of empowering customers to afford the things they need, it allows instant account opening and real-time credit approval, combined with digital loan servicing and repayments technology. In a country like India, where less than 10 million people have or want a credit card, ZestMoney can help them have lending options based on alternative data sources. It thus enables the lenders to reach a wider market and make decisions quickly without manual underwriting.

Founded in 2015, this startup leverages the experience of the founding team in the digital payments ecosystem, to developed easy to configure micro-services, that help lenders and e-commerce partners integrate quickly. This approach along with a consumer-first risk engine and transparent pricing allows ZestMoney to enable end consumers to afford higher value products, doubling AOV (average order value) for its partners and expanding the reach of its lenders.

ZestMoney’s “Credit-for-all” mantra-

Chapman says that India is at the cusp of a digital boom. With the government’s push towards ‘Digital India’, rapidly growing smartphone user base in India, decrease in data prices and a massive youth population, the country is a hotbed of opportunities for e-commerce companies. She further adds that millions of Indian consumers want to experience premium brands using online shopping, but affordability comes as a big hurdle, with no tangible solution to it yet.


Given the low penetration and complicated processes around credit cards and banks, Indians are left with limited or no options for leveraging their credit appetite. This is where digital EMIs have an immense potential to solve the market challenge and are an evolved mode of payment over personal loans and credit cards—an offering that ZestMoney is proud of.

“At ZestMoney we understand that it is not a question of whether this audience can afford credit. It is the question of – is there a dedicated science, technology, ecosystem, built for them yet?”

“We have developed a fairly advanced risk-assessment model, partnership ecosystem with over 50+ e-Commerce companies, and a technology team with a unique skillset that thoroughly understands the financial and technological challenges. We have not seen anyone else offer digital EMI at a scale where people can avail it while checking out on eCommerce websites and apps”, Chapman shares.

Use of Artificial intelligence in assessing creditworthiness

Chapman is quick to add that their technology uses a wide variety of data sources including digital footprint, web-graph and e-commerce shopping behaviour of consumers. This is where the startup uses AI and machine learning to continuously improve risk assessment abilities.  

“This has aided us in gauging creditworthiness of customers who don’t even have a CIBIL score, 25% of customers we’ve helped pay in EMI had no CIBIL score”, she says.

By processing new-age data points using mobile tech, digital banking and AI, ZestMoney team is taking the risk out of lending to the “everyone”, thus enabling millions more Indian consumers to shop online whilst bringing trust into high-value digital transactions for the Indian e-commerce industry.

Analytics And Other Tech

On ZestMoney leveraging analytics in the overall functioning of the company, Chapman shares that they use analytics to understand the customer behaviour right from seeing an ad, visiting the website to paying their last EMI. “This helps us optimize all the functions within ZestMoney and reduce risk throughout our business processes”, she says.

She further adds that they also use data science to optimize their marketing and that their Facebook advertising efficiency has improved 3X and conversion improved 2X, since its adoption.

Partnership with PayTM, Chillr and more-

It is quite interesting to note that ZestMoney has an interesting partnership portfolio with the likes of PayTM and Chiller. When asked about the goal of this partnership, Chapman explains “We are building the most efficient way for all kinds of people to pay using digital EMI. ​Wherever the customer wants to use EMI/ credit, we will be there. Through our business model that provides “credit-as-a-service”, we are able to work with multiple partners who want to provide credit to their customers in the fastest and most user-friendly way. ​Hence such partnerships provide a well-rounded customer experience, which is important to our growth model.”

Last word-

There is no second thought about the fact that Fintech companies are crowding the space. But how does ZestMoney plan to stand apart from others? Well, Chapman has an answer. She says by using advanced machine learning algorithms coupled with their in-house risk engine (that has approved loans in less than 10 seconds) will set them apart.

“We are able to assess a wide variety of consumers and not just the elite 10%, unlike other industry players, using this technology”, she adds. Combining this with its highly efficient digital process, ZestMoney intends to provide the fastest mode to buy products and services to everyone. And given the right blend of technology, it wouldn’t be a tough deal!

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