Using satellite to give loans: ICICI Bank deploys unique technology to provide hassle-free farm loans

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ICICI Bank said that the use of innovative technology helps farmers with existing credit to enhance their eligibility. (Bloomberg image)

In a major step towards providing hassle-free loans to farmers, ICICI Bank today said that it is using satellite images to assess credit worthiness of farmers. The bank added that the use of innovative technology helps farmers with existing credit to enhance their eligibility, while new-to-credit farmers can now get better access to credit. ICICI Bank has become the first bank in India to use such technique to measure an array of parameters related to the land, irrigation and crop patterns and use it in combination with demographic and financial parameters to make expeditious lending decisions for farmers.

ICICI Bank has created new paradigms in the financial services industry by taking the lead in introducing path breaking innovations including firsts like internet banking in 1998, mobile banking (2008), Tab banking (2012), 24×7 Touch Banking branches (2012), Software Robotics (2016) and Blockchain deployment (2016), said Anup Bagchi, Executive Director, ICICI Bank. We are bringing forth yet another futuristic technology of using satellite data and analysis to provide key inputs for credit assessments for lending to farmers, he added.

Some of the key satellite data being used by the bank are rainfall and temperature data of past years; soil moisture levels in past years; surface water availability; trends in crop sowing including crop name; and tentative sowing & harvesting weeks. Crop health and yields; agriculture land location details including latitude, longitude; boundary of the land; and nearby locations of warehouses and mandis are also moitored via satellite imagery.

Earlier, the customer or the bank representative had to visit remote locations to manually assess parameters such as the land location, irrigation levels and crop quality patterns to forecast future revenues of the farmers. Now, the imagery from earth observation satellite provides ability to track various information across large areas in a contactless and reliable manner. This, combined with demographic and financial details, provides strong information on the land asset of the farmers, the bank said.

Meanwhile, the bank has set a near-term target of covering over 63,000 villages in the country for lending with this technology, after it received encouraging response to the pilot project in over 500 villages. The new technology is also expected to cut the time of providing credit as the land verification is done in a contactless manner and credit assessments are being done within a few days as against the industry practice of upto 15 days.

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