January 26th, Beijing-based AI firm 4Paradigm has announced strategic investments from the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank; making it the only AI startup to get funding from three major Chinese state-owned banks. 4Paradigm had previously completed an A round with Sequoia Capital China, A+ round with Sinovation Ventures, and B round with Genesis Capital and Zhongwei Capital.
The AI industry is changing, as many companies now prioritize securing client orders over winning AI competitions. 4Paradigm has followed this strategy since the 2016 introduction of its large-scale distributed machine learning platform “Prophet.” To date, Prophet has helped clients in the finance industry boost performance in verticals like targeted client-booking, personalized recommendation, application anti-fraud, transaction anti-fraud, overdue or loss warning, liquidity management, smart collection, and disposal of non-performing assets.
Now the company is upgrading Prophet and taking a more comprehensive approach to developing full stack solutions for enterprises.
CEO Wenyuan Dai tells Synced, “We have finished many industry benchmark cases in the past few years. We have worked with dozens of big banks, in some cases boosting performance by more than 100%. This attracted the attention of state-owned banks, who hope to develop long-term cooperative relationships with us. After this round of investment, we will expedite AI product development and provide AI solution plans in China’s banking, insurance, and securities industry, so that eventually all enterprises and users can enjoy the added value of AI.”
4Paradigm is now building customized AI brains for its clients, which can potentially spawn hundreds or even thousands of AI applications. Guangdong Development Bank, for example, has already built ten different AI applications based on 4Paradigm’s core systems. The company’s solutions also allow other AI companies to build on its systems. Banks are benefiting from bundled solutions provided by different startups, streamlining the cooperation process.
“We started by working on vertical domains, like anti-fraud systems and targeted marketing because initially, no big banks would delegate core businesses to a startup. After three hard years, banks are handing us their trusted ‘credit cards’. Given this trust, we will work on full upgrades progressively,” explains Dai.
CEO Dai is a respected transfer learning expert with who served as the principal researcher at Huawei Noah’s Ark Lab. Company co-founder Qiang Yang is the Chair Professor at HKUST in Hong Kong, an ACM fellow, and the founding head of Noah’s Ark Lab which has published over 400 papers in the field.
4Paradigm’s staff expanded from just a few people to some 300 last year, with the product development team particularly well represented. The company also focused on accumulating data and building multiple algorithm models in 2017; and opened Paradigm University to fast-track the education of its own AI talent using the Prophet platform. Each data scientist will coach several students, providing a robust talent pipeline for the company.
Read here for more 4Paradigm AI use cases.
Journalist: Meghan Han | Editor: Michael Sarazen