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Digital arm of French operator invests in AI start-up

The digital arm of French telecommunications behemoth Orange has announced that it is one of a number of investors in a new AI credit scoring start-up firm.

Orange Digital Ventures was established in 2015, and has been involved in a number of pioneering programs and projects throughout Europe. It has already made a number of investments in companies that are specifically focused on emerging technologies such as AI, Internet of Things and Big Data.

It confirmed that it will be one of the investors in an $11m funding round by the AI consumer credit scoring company Aire.

The company will use the capital injection from investors to upgrade its platform and launch in the US. In addition to Orange’s investment arm, Experian Ventures; Crane Venture Partners; White Star Capital; and Sunstone Capital also took part in the funding round.

Aire provides platforms for financial institutions to assess a consumer’s suitability for credit based on what it claims is a wider set of data points than used by traditional credit scoring companies. It also uses machine-learning technology to predict future behaviour.

In addition to this, the company says that its technique allows for a much more accurate assessment of those with limited credit history and groups whose access to mainstream financial services was restricted.

In a statement, Orange said Aire’s technology meets several of its business objectives for Orange Bank in Europe and Orange Money in Africa.

Orange Digital Ventures chairman Marc Rennard (pictured) said: “As a mobile financial services provider in Europe and in Africa, Orange has leveraged new technologies to bring digital payment and transfer to underserved populations. We believe consumer credit is the next frontier, and that Aire – relying on AI to improve risk assessment – is in an ideal position to enable lenders to upgrade their scoring and give a fairer access to finance.”