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ICICI Bank to use satellite data for credit assessment of farmers

India leading private bank, ICICI Bank on Tuesday said, “It will use satellite data – imagery from Earth observation satellites, to access credit-worthiness of its customers belonging to the farm sector.”

In a statement issued, ICICI said, “The use of satellite data provides a quick and technically sound analysis of the land, crop and irrigation patterns from remote locations, without the need of the customer or a bank official having to visit the land. It offers farmers the significant advantage of reliable data being provided to the Bank without any hassles of travel, operational or logistical expenditure to them.”

“The bank has been using the satellite data for the past few months in over 500 villages in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat and plans to scale up the initiative to over 63,000 villages,” The Bank said.

Speaking on the development, Anup Bagchi, Executive Director of ICICI Bank said, “ICICI Bank has a legacy of pioneering innovations in technology to create propositions that provide increased convenience to customers. We have 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).”

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“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. Earlier, one had to visit remote locations to manually assess a host of parameters on the land location, irrigation levels, and crop quality patterns to forecast future revenues of the farmers. Now, imagery from earth observation satellite gives us ground-breaking ability to track much information across large areas in a contactless and highly reliable manner,” Anup said.

“This, combined with demographic and financial details, provides strong information on the land asset of the farmers. We believe that usage of this technology will enhance accessibility to credit as new-to-credit farmers will have easy access to formal credit, as well as farmers with existing credit lines will be able to securely expand their eligibility. With encouraging response to our pilot project in over 500 villages, we will shortly cover over 63,000 villages in the country for lending with this technology,” he added.

Adding the statement, the bank further said, “he Bank has partnered with Agri–fintech companies specializing in harnessing space technology and weather information for commercial usage. It has worked closely with them to build reports with over 40 parameters for assessing the credit-worthiness of a farmer with a deep study of the land, irrigation, and crop patterns. The analysis is put together using algorithms to analyze images available from satellites around the planet. Additionally, the Bank has worked on further scoring models to create indices at the district level, village level as well as for individual land to provide an estimate of the past and future agriculture income, the timing of harvest and sources of income, and thus, provide key inputs to credit assessments.”

“This innovative technology will help farmers, who are existing customers of the Bank as well as non-customers, to avail KCC (Kisan Credit Card) loans. KCC attributed one-third to the Bank’s rural loan portfolio of Rs 571.77 billion in the quarter ended June 30, 2020,” the bank added.