Credit Kudos raises £2.2 million Series A investment led by Ascension Ventures

Credit Kudos, challenger credit bureau and leader in commercial applications of Open Banking, announced today they have raised £2.2m in their latest round of funding. Funding is led by Ascension Ventures, through its social impact fund Fair by Design, with additional investment from existing investors NFT Ventures and Entrepreneur First’s Next Stage Fund. New backers include Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham; prolific angel investor Charlie Songhurst (investor in Affirm, ClassPass, and Coindesk); and key figures from the credit industry, including both the former CEO and MD of Callcredit, now TransUnion, John McAndrew and Graham Lund. The investment will be used to drive further growth within the UK and support expansion into Europe, alongside further investment into Credit Kudos’ platform.

Credit Kudos, which launched its Open Banking platform in January 2018, was co-founded by software engineers Freddy Kelly and Matt Schofield. Upon returning to the UK after working in Silicon Valley, Freddy faced a myriad of challenges accessing credit due to his ‘thin’ credit file. With little to no recent financial activity in the UK, Freddy was offered only limited credit product options, with higher interest rates and restrictions. This experience led Freddy to co-found Credit Kudos to help all people access affordable credit.

In the UK alone, it is estimated that 1 in 4 UK families have less than £100 in savings, demonstrating a pervasive need for access to affordable credit. However, due to insufficient data, many individuals with the most need for credit are at risk of being pushed into high-cost credit options, and have the hardest time accessing affordable loans. It was also revealed that financially excluded individuals pay on average a “poverty premium” of £490 per annum.

Credit Kudos’ mission is to advance financial inclusion through new applications of technology. Credit Kudos provides lenders, brokers and financial institutions with a highly accurate and transparent scoring system based on consumer consented data, providing a fairer representation of an individual’s creditworthiness. Credit Kudos’ solution enables lenders to make better decisions, whilst simultaneously helping previously overlooked individuals access credit.

Investment in this round by Ascension Ventures’ social impact fund Fair by Design (FBD), is a testament to Credit Kudos’ work towards the advancement of financial inclusion and reducing the poverty premium, to enable previously overlooked individuals access to mainstream credit through alternative measures of creditworthiness. “Credit Kudos is very much at the centre of the FBD investment thesis,”said Emma Steele, Investment Manager for Ascension Ventures “They are a core solution to tackling the lack of fair and affordable access to credit for customers, with thin files or no credit history. We very much back Freddy’s ambition to change the way the risk profile of a potential borrower is assessed. By doing that, Credit Kudos has the potential to 1) advance financial inclusion by improving approval rates for people previously excluded by the system 2) help prevent borrowers from being forced into higher priced products and 3) make it easy for lenders to check affordability. We are excited to back the team on this journey.”

Also providing further investment is the world’s leading talent investor, Entrepreneur First. Entrepreneur First have been a part of the Credit Kudos story since inception. Matt Clifford, Entrepreneur First CEO said, “Credit Kudos is tackling a highly complex and challenging problem, taking a new approach that leverages machine learning to power smarter decisions. We are thrilled to be doubling down on our commitment to the team and their vision.”

This funding round has brought a number of new backers including BBC Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham, “I’m thrilled to be backing the Credit Kudos team and their mission to make credit scoring fairer and easier for both businesses and consumers. Sadly the traditional methods are still opaque and confusing and all too often consumers are penalised despite being very creditworthy. Applying new data and technology to the problem gives Credit Kudos the ability to make smarter decisions, empowering consumers and giving them greater choice. I look forward to seeing Credit Kudos make a lot of lives easier.”

Securing further investment from both original investors and further industry leaders is evidence of Credit Kudos’ success and growth since Open Banking became a reality in early 2018. “This investment allows us to scale up our business to meet the demands of a post-Open Banking and PSD2 world,” said Freddy Kelly, Credit Kudos CEO. “This funding will be used to expand our engineering and development team to continue to deliver first to market technology across our platform, as well as supporting expansion into wider Europe.”

_________________

About Credit Kudos:

Credit Kudos is an FCA-authorised credit bureau and an Open Banking Account Information Service Provider (AISP) that uses financial behaviour to measure creditworthiness. Through direct connections to the UK’s largest banks, Credit Kudos aggregates and interprets transaction data for use by lenders, brokers, and financial institutions. Credit Kudos goes beyond traditional scoring, providing a comprehensive view of a borrower’s creditworthiness. Its platform transforms complex sets of information in easy-to-use, digital-first tools to help everyone make better lending decisions.

PolyAI raises £9.2 million Series A investment to deploy conversational AI agents in contact centres led by Point72 Ventures

8th March 2019

Company plans to use its technology to disrupt traditional customer service models

 LONDON, 8 March, 2019 — PolyAI, a platform for conversational artificial intelligence, today announced $12 million in Series A funding. The investment round was led by Point72 Ventures and included investments from Sands Capital Ventures, Amadeus Capital Partners, Passion Capital, and Entrepreneur First. This follows an earlier $2.4 million seed round, led by Amadeus Capital Partners and Passion Capital.

PolyAI’s platform powers conversational AI agents that guide users through complex customer support scenarios. The agents are based on PolyAI’s proprietary machine learning and natural language processing technology, which allows them to scale seamlessly across different use cases and world languages.

“Developing sophisticated AI technology while formulating a compelling SaaS proposition is a significant challenge, and it has delayed the real-world deployment of conversational AI for far too long,” said Nikola Mrkšić, PolyAI co-founder and CEO. “Attempts to bring modern AI to customer support have been largely unsuccessful – due to a lack of data and insufficient understanding of contact center operations. To make rapid progress, we plan to pursue very close integration with existing contact centres.”

“Our machine learning platform works to empower human agents, not replace them,” Shawn Wen, PolyAI co-founder and CTO said. “Our AI agents learn by listening to humans – then, they provide suggestions and improve through feedback. They can do many things that we as humans struggle with. They have instant access to all relevant information and can speak any world language. At peak times, they can handle calls autonomously if human agents are not available.” Mrkšić added: “Ultimately, AI agents are not a replacement for the human touch, which is essential for great customer experience. However, automation is key for changing the economics of a contact centre – if the AI agents can deal with the most routine use cases, this leaves the more complex cases to humans, where they can bring the most value.”

The London startup was founded in 2017 with a core team of scientists and engineers from Cambridge’s Dialog Systems Group. The CEO and co-founder, Nikola Mrkšić, was the first engineer at VocalIQ, a start-up that developed proprietary software to improve dialogue interactions in voice-activated systems, sold to Apple in 2015 to be integrated with Siri.

“We believe strongly in the potential for AI to transform existing industries by improving both customer satisfaction and workforce efficiency, and we’re thrilled to support PolyAI’s mission to build the world’s most advanced call centres,” said Sri Chandrasekar, Partner at Point72 Ventures.  “Nikola, Shawn, and Eddy have put together an impressive team of builders and engineers at PolyAI who are poised to modernize this important aspect of customer service.”

Hermann Hauser, Co-Founder and Venture Partner, Amadeus Capital Partners, said: “PolyAI has identified, in customer experience, a major market in need of intelligent automation. They have a deep knowledge of how conversational AI can enhance human interaction and communication in order to transform the customer service experience. Amadeus is pleased to support this exceptionally smart and proven team as they build out the business.”

Press Contacts:
Nikola Mrksic
+447869767467
nikola@poly-ai.com

Tiffany Galvin-Cohen
(203) 890-2052
Tiffany.galvin-cohen@point72.com

About PolyAI 
PolyAI is a London-based technology company with a state-of-the-art machine learning platform for creating conversational agents. The PolyAI platform empowers contact centres, allowing them to deliver the next-generation of customer experience at a fraction of the cost paid by their competitors. PolyAI’s conversational AI agents understand users and can hold conversations without getting confused. They are available 24/7 and can easily scale to support new use cases or to speak almost any world language.