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AI Lender Upstart Raises $50 Million and Announces New Bank Partnerships

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Upstart, the leading artificial intelligence (AI) lending platform, announced a $50Million equity investment from Progressive Investment Company Inc., Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, and First National Bank of Omaha.

Upstart has raised more than $160M since inception and has more than $100M in cash and equity capital on hand. Additionally, Upstart will be the newest offering in the Progressive portfolio of Advantage Products, which are third-party products offered to meet consumers’ changing needs.

“We started on this journey because credit is not just a cornerstone of our economy but a fundamental ingredient in the lives of Americans,” said Dave Girouard, Upstart co-founder and CEO and former president of Google Enterprise. “For hundreds of years, credit has represented opportunity and mobility for those seeking what’s next in their lives. Whether it’s to learn a new skill, to relocate to a new city, to start a new business, or to buy a new home or car, the price of credit is the price of opportunity and mobility. It’s the price of what’s next.”

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Upstart co-founder Paul Gu added, “Credit is generally overpriced and unfairly distributed, because it relies on techniques developed before the advent of modern computing. But technology and data science, in the form of AI, have the opportunity to change all of that.”

After more than $3.3B in loans originated in the last five years, Upstart has demonstrated loss rates less than half those of peer platforms for borrowers with similar FICO scores. Furthermore, a study comparing Upstart’s model to those of several large U.S. banks showed that Upstart could cut their loan losses by three-quarters or almost triple their approval rates.*

Thus far in 2019, more than 60% of Upstart originations were entirely automated and approved in real time, an unprecedented feat in installment lending. On the back of strong unit economics and exceptional credit performance, Upstart grew revenues by about 80% in 2018 and reached profitability in the second half of the year.

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Upstart’s business is designed not to compete with banks but to partner with them. Upstart launched its first partnerships with Customers Bank and its BankMobile division. Today, the company announced it has signed “Powered by Upstart” partnership agreements with First National Bank of Omaha, First Federal Bank of Kansas City and Accion Chicago. With Powered by Upstart, banks and other lenders can leverage Upstart’s AI platform in the form of a white-labeled lending application to power their own lending programs. The Powered by Upstart platform allows banks and other lenders to enforce their own credit policy and lending terms while benefiting from Upstart’s patent-pending risk modeling and automation.

“We chose to partner with Upstart because their approach to modernizing lending is well aligned with FNBO’s focus on a customer-centric experience,” said Marc Butterfield, senior vice president of enterprise digital solutions and emerging business at First National Bank of Omaha. “Upstart’s AI/ML-based pricing engine and automation will allow us to profitably serve a broader set of customers, within a great digital onboarding experience, than we could before.”

“Our mission at First Federal Bank of Kansas City is to help people build a better financial future,” said J.R. Buckner, president and CEO of First Federal Bank of Kansas City. “Fulfilling this mission means we must find innovative new ways to more effectively engage with current and prospective customers. Our partnership with Upstart is a key part of this strategy and will allow us to extend our products and services to a broader customer base that is more digitally savvy.”

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“Accion Chicago’s mission is to help neighborhood entrepreneurs grow, which is why we provide our low-cost microloans to minority- and women-owned businesses who create jobs and wealth in underserved communities throughout Illinois and Indiana,” said Brad McConnell, CEO of Accion Chicago. “We believe that partnering with Upstart is the most creative, careful, and cost-effective way to lend to these inspirational small business owners that other lenders overlook.”

While personal loans are the fastest growing segment of credit, they’re far from the largest. With this equity round completed, Upstart expects to expand its AI platform to other types of credit. The company recently launched the first ever Upstart-powered credit cards with Customers Bank’s BankMobile division. Upstart partnered with BankMobile to develop two credit cards: the BankMobile Classic Mastercard and the BankMobile Rewards Mastercard, both available now via online application.

“We were excited to partner with Upstart as their vision of making credit more accessible aligns with our focus on low-cost banking services to low/middle-income Americans who have been left behind by the high-fee model of ‘traditional’ banks,” stated Luvleen Sidhu, Co-Founder, President and Chief Strategy Officer at BankMobile. “Upstart’s focus on automating the customer experience combined with their modeling capabilities further our goal of adding breadth to our growing banking products and services available to our customer base.”

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