One of my most vivid memories from my eight years at The Wall Street Journal was sitting with my boss talking about the future of Google. I had just taken over the beat, and my editor was trying to map out for me how to cover the most important internet company at the time (and arguably now).
“If you just remember one theme, it’s that the easy stuff is over,” he said to me. “Now the hard part begins.” Indeed, Google had seen rocket-ship growth through search and was facing pressure from investors for a next act. Android. Cloud. Chrome. Google Wave! Each was a new attempt. That narrative—where’s the next big act?—defined my coverage and that of other Google beat reporters for years to come.
Australian AI startup cracks China partnership opportunity
Rich Data Corp uses AI and machine learning to help lenders make decisions about whether to give credit to individuals and small businesses.
Rich Data Corporation is no ordinary startup. In just three years, the company has opened offices in China and Singapore, secured a strategic partnership with Chinese tech giant Inspur, and completed a multimillion-dollar Series A funding round.
Formed in Sydney in 2016, Rich Data Corp uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help lenders make decisions about whether to give credit to individuals and small businesses. In particular, its technology interprets alternative sources of data to assess people and businesses that might fall outside the usual credit bureau checks.
With the applicant’s permission (consent and the ethical use of data is a big part of the company’s ethos), Rich Data Corp looks at behavioural data – such as transactions with other organisations – to predict how likely the applicant is to repay a loan.
Rich Data Corp’s four founders wanted to use data to solve interesting problems. With experience in the financial services sector, they settled on applying their skills to lending.
A US financial services provider, EZCORP, became one of Rich Data Corp’s angel investors. EZCORP asked Rich Data Corp to work with its Canadian offshoot CashMax as a test bed for the Rich Data Corp approach to prediction and decision-making.
‘The Canadian lender produced a 10 per cent lift in the size of their lending portfolio with no additional risk, and they were lending into subprime segments,’ says Gordon Campbell, Rich Data Corp’s Chief Product Officer and Head of Strategy.
‘On that success EZCORP spawned a follow-on project to launch a completely digital neo-lender brand called Rebel Financial.’
Entering the Chinese market
Rich Data Corp’s chance to break into China came soon after the trial with Rebel Financial. Through contacts at US-based fintech multinational Diebold Nixdorf, Rich Data Corp was introduced to Inspur.
The world’s third largest server manufacturer and a leading provider of cloud solutions to government agencies and enterprises, Inspur manages the IT governance of 110 local government bodies in China. The company has engaged Rich Data Corp to assist banks to use government data to better assess the credit risk of small businesses. This will enable banks to extend credit to more small businesses, a stated mission of the Chinese Government.
‘We are helping banks improve credit assessment so they can confidently lend to small business clients,’ says Ada Guan, Rich Data Corp’s Chief Executive. ‘That’s not only validating our approach, but improving it, as the prediction models become more sophisticated the more real-world examples they’re exposed to.’
Rich Data Corp has also worked with Midea Smart Home, a division of Chinese home appliance provider Midea Global. Rich Data Corp has deployed an AI engine within the Midea Meiju app that delivers accurate, individually tailored recommendations based on the user’s purchasing history and machine learning algorithms.
The Tech Giants’ Cultures Are Incompatible With Fixing the Societal Problems They’re Causing
The chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter are rightly under fire for their role in spreading disinformation and hate speech, including in the context of the U.S. presidential election.
They’ve been summoned to testify before the U.S. Senate today in part about their responsibility for the real-world harms their business models are causing. But at the heart of the problems with big tech is an issue unlikely to be addressed: company culture. And yet company culture may be one of the biggest factors hindering the change so many critics want to see.
Tech CEOs Face Angry Senators: The Information’s Tech Briefing
If today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Section 230 demonstrated anything, it’s the impossible position faced by tech companies in responding to Democrats and Republicans complaining about their content moderation policies. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted in his opening statement, “Democrats often say we don’t remove enough content and Republicans often say we remove too much.”
That divide was demonstrated even more starkly after Sen. Ted Cruz spent several minutes shouting at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey—whose long beard makes him look like a member of ZZ Top—about Twitter’s decision to limit distribution of a New York Post article. Cruz was followed by Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz, urging tech CEOs to stand up to bullying behavior by Republicans.
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