(Yicai Global) July 20 -- Baidu Inc. [NASDAQ:BIDU] is investing an undisclosed sum of money in ZestFinance Inc., a technology startup that uses big data techniques to provide credit ratings, in order to develop a credit scoring system based on the Internet giant's search data.
Los Angeles-based ZestFinance, founded three years ago by former vice president of engineering at Google Inc. Mr. Douglas Merrill, evaluates credit scores through big data analysis to help organizations more accurately assess potential borrowers.
The investment will allow Baidu, operator of China's dominant search engine, to examine its users' credit worthiness. For example, if a user searches for video games on weekdays, this might indicate that he or she does not have a job, and is also not a student.
Baidu began to accelerate its investment in Internet finance last year. Mr. Zhang Xuyang, former general manager of China Everbright Bank Ltd.'s asset management department, joined Baidu last month as a vice president in charge of the Internet giant's finance-related businesses. "Baidu is endeavoring to develop into a great fintech company," he said. "This is a massive blue ocean."