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

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Upstart, the leading artificial intelligence (AI) lending platform, today announced a $50M 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. Upstart loans will be available through www.progressive.com in the near future.

“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.”

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.

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.”

“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.”

Upstart CEO Dave Girouard will be on stage with Marc Butterfield, SVP from First National Bank of Omaha, at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9 at LendIt Fintech USA 2019, taking place in San Francisco, California.

 

SOURCE Upstart

Cannabis

Phivida’s Wikala.com Signs on Third Party CBD Product Manufacturer Envy Hemp

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Phivida Holdings Inc. (CSE: VIDA) (OTCPK: PHVAF) (“Phivida” or the “Company“) is excited to announce that Envy Hemp has signed on to feature its products on the Phivida-owned Wikala.com (“Wikala“). Envy Hemp, a manufacturer of water-soluble CBD tinctures and capsules, is the most recent vendor to join Wikala.com, adding to the growing line up of third-party vendors on the CBD online marketplace.

Envy Hemp successfully signed up on December 16, 2019 and was approved the next day. Envy Hemp had their products online a day after on December 18, 2019 using Wikala’s new self-sign up module launched by the platform in early December. The module offers vendors, like Envy Hemp, the ability to establish their storefronts and brands on the platform quickly and with ease and security.

“I really loved the organization and layout of the Wikala site. Many CBD marketplaces are cluttered with products, but Wikala is very user-friendly in comparison,” said Kirby Drake, Executive Coordinator of Envy Hemp. “From a vendor’s stand point, the back-end of the site is incredibly easy for sellers to upload their products and information.”

With the streamlined sign-up process, third party vendors can join the platform and launch their products in a timely manner that is in compliance with CBD regulations. The platform gives Vendors the ability to onboard their products with very little assistance or support.

“We’re thrilled to see vendors like Envy Hemp take advantage of how easy it is to set up their digital storefronts on Wikala.com,” said David Moon, interim CEO of Phivida. “The technology is client friendly and responsive for both consumers and vendors, and we will continue to build the platform membership and expand our third-party product offerings in 2020.”

Wikala aims to be a leading online marketplace for CBD products as it continues to partner with cannabis companies and third-party vendors. The focus is to have a wide selection of high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade CBD supplements and products represented on the platform.

Envy Hemp joins the other leading CBD brands already signed up with Wikala, including CBD FX, Gold Q, Love Life, Tree Of Life Botanicals, in addition to Phivida’s own Oki and VIDA+ products. Third party vendors can sign on to the platform by creating a vendor account on the website.

 

SOURCE Phivida Holdings Inc.

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Light Engine Design Corp. Expands Advisory Board with Plant Geneticists Adam Jacques and Christian West

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Light Engine Design Corp. (OTC: TLED) has invited ZED Therapeutics’ chief geneticist Adam Jacques and director of cultivation, Christian West, to join the advisory board in an effort to develop novel horticultural lighting technologies for the hemp and cannabis sectors.

ZED Therapeutics currently holds a genetic library of over 300 novel cultivars of high-cannabidiol (CBD) hemp genetics; several of which express CBD concentrations above 25% (w/w). ZED has also developed proprietary technologies for the conversion of high-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) cannabis into analogous high-CBD hemp, and several high-yielding single stalk varietals that can be harvested in less than 8 weeks. The expanding relationship between TLED and ZED has already resulted in the development of novel technologies to improve the environmental stewardship and operational efficiency of greenhouse cultivation.

“I am looking forward to working with Adam and Chris in these quickly-expanding markets,” said TLED Chief Operating Officer, Robert Manes, “we’ve already identified several ways to work together to research and develop novel technologies and methodologies to maximize quality and production.”

 

SOURCE Light Engine Design Corp.

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Cannabis

Meta Growth Provides Update on Ontario Roll-out

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National Access Cannabis Corp. (TSXV: META) d/b/a Meta Growth (“Meta Growth”, “META” or the “Company”), Canada’s largest publicly traded recreational cannabis retailer by revenue1, today announced that both of the winners of the Ontario cannabis store lottery which the Company has entered into agreements with (please refer to press releases dated December 19, 2019, and January 9, 2020) have received their Retail Operators License.

“Receipt of their Retail Operators License is a major milestone for the lottery winners,” said Mark Goliger, CEO of Meta Growth. “The last step to open these stores is to pass store inspection and considering the construction is in its final stage, we expect this in a matter of days for Toronto and a few weeks for Kitchener.”

On December 12, 2019, the Government of Ontario identified that until August 31, 2020, retail operators may own a maximum of 10 cannabis stores, increasing to 30 in September 2020.  In addition to the two agreements that META has signed with lottery winners in Toronto and Kitchener, the Company has already assembled a portfolio of more than 10 class A sites in Ontario which it intends to operate as corporate stores.  META has begun construction activities on these sites in anticipation of submitting store authorization applications on March 2, 2020.

 

SOURCE National Access Cannabis Corp d/b/a Meta Growth

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