[Exclusive] ZestMoney makes its first acquisition, acquires AI intelligence platform PhotographAI


ZestMoney will use PhotographAI's solutions to improve customer experience around the processes of onboarding and filling forms.  

Bengaluru-based ZestMoney on Wednesday said that it has acquired AI-based intelligence platform, PhotographAI. This is the digital lender's first acquisition. Not disclosing the size of the deal, the company said that it will be hiring the entire PhotographAI team and give them ESOPs.

Founded in 2017, Bengaluru-based PhotographAI is a technology platform with ready-to-use machine learning solutions for businesses. The company was founded by Mikhil Raj and Karan Varshney, who are alumni of IIT Delhi.

Lizzie Chapman, Co-founder, ZestMoney

PhotographAI offers pre-trained AI models (for image analytics and classification) to businesses that can process close to 2,000 images per second. These services can be used for image quality analysis, facial recognition, social genres of images, apparel classification as well as identifying exact text and photograph from identity documents like Aadhaar as well as PAN card.

In the past, PhotographAI had raised funding from venture capital firms Orios Venture Partners and IndiaQuotient.

The acquisition will help ZestMoney further refine its customer onboarding experience, especially for its customers in Tier II geographies.

Speaking to YourStory, Lizzie Chapman, Co-founder and CEO, ZestMoney said,

“The scope for using PhotographAI solutions are vast. We could be using this for facial or voice recognition where there is no OTP recognition required. This could lead to newer features like speaking into the app, and the application recognising your voice and telling you your balance.”

However, Lizzie says that the first implementations will be for the onboarding process where the customer has to take a picture of their PAN card and the image recognition technology will automatically pick up the details for the customer.

This saves the customer crucial time and hassle of filling up forms while applying for loans, thereby offering a new-age experience.

ZestMoney started working with the PhotographAI platform a few months back and has started implementation on the National Automated Clearing House (NACH) side. Lizzie says, at present, only 40 percent of their customers’ banks have the new automated eNACH mandates.

Machine learning allows ZestMoney to ease the collection process by understanding the customer spends better.

At present, ZestMoney sees more than 70 percent of their customers coming from non-metro towns. With respect to this, the company started powering SMS and email collections in eight regional languages.

Lizzie also confirms that the company had raised their bridge round, more like Series A2 earlier this year. The company is looking to raise an additional Series-B round in the next six to nine months. With some initial investments already, Xiaomi is expected to take a larger stake in the upcoming round.

ZestMoney states that it has more than two million accounts on its platform, of which more than half have an active credit limit. The firm is looking to take its total accounts to five million this year.

The platform lends close to Rs 3 crore a day and has, in the past six months, forayed into newer lending categories of healthcare, education, fashion and travel.

At present, ZestMoney has close to 100 different ecommerce partners for lending, along with five active lending partners.

However, at present, ZestMoney just facilitates loans through its platform and doesn’t co-lend from its own books unlike bigger players like Capital Float.

On whether ZestMoney is looking to acquire an NBFC, Lizzie says,

“We never aspired to be a digital lender NBFC but being the biggest fintech facilitating loans. Also, we are getting some good amounts from our NBFC partners to lend at competitive rates. So, it doesn’t make any sense. But if we do see any value we might look at acquiring an NBFC in the next 12 months.”

With the acquisition, ZestMoney also looks at deploying AI capabilities to chatbots, amongst other things, which will better customer experience by reducing the customer’s time over IVR.