Westpac announces AI partnership to transform business lending

Artificial Intelligence Rich Data Co. Westpac

Westpac has announced a new partnership with a Sydney-based artificial intelligence (AI) developer Rich Data Co. (RDC) to innovate its business lending services using AI technologies. 

Among the new AI-backed capabilities to come out of the partnership include a new ‘two-sided’ digital finance application form, enabling customers and bankers to jointly work on an application, and an expanded cash flow offering which, according to the bank, will enable complex businesses to access flexible, unsecured funding.

More broadly, Westpac said the use of RDC’s technology will give its bankers “rapid access to more detailed data”, supporting quicker decision-making on customers’ eligibility for various products.

Westpac managing director of business lending, Shane Howell, said: “We want to give our customers fast decisions and provide a simple and informed experience.

“This work gives us a deeper understanding of our customers, so that we can support and provide insights as and when they need it.

“Integrating AI into our business lending decision-making processes will simplify and accelerate our lending practices for customers, allowing us to enhance our existing platforms and decisioning capability in a safe and controlled way,” Howell added.

According to RDC chief executive and co-founder Ada Guan, the lendtech developer’s AI platform uses historical data to cast forward projections on cash flow health, sifting through a borrower’s transaction data to find patterns and provide insights into their future state of being.

She cites the example of a small retail operator, who might have a ‘bumpy’ earnings profile. “In providing a past, present and future view of a business’s performance, AI can help bankers look through any seasonal volatility to get a more holistic view of whether it should be given credit or not.”

Guan noted that RDC’s platform and service will be used more broadly to simplify, improve and accelerate Westpac’s lending system processes.

“We are thrilled to be working with Westpac as it focuses on the growth and acceleration of its business lending capabilities,” she said.

“Our platform will allow Westpac to have a greater understanding of its customers for both lending needs and credit risk management.

“Customers are the ultimate beneficiaries of our platform and our partnership with Westpac ensures we can help power the delivery of enhanced services.”

Westpac’s latest agreement with RDC follows an earlier deal, struck back in late 2020, between fellow big four National Australia Bank (NAB) and the AI developer.

As part of the agreement, NAB leveraged the AI developer’s ‘Delta’ credit risk management capability which linked traditional and alternative data sources to provide more accurate and transparent prediction and credit decisions.