India's Icici Bank is using satellite imaging to assess the creditworthiness of farmers applying for loans.
Icic is using the satellite data to measure an array of parameters related to the land, irrigation and crop patterns, in combination with demographic and financial markers, to help it making lending decisions.
The bank has been trialing the technology 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 across the country.
Anup Bagchi, executive director, Icici Bank, says: “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 many information across large areas in a contactless and highly reliable manner. This, combined with demographic and financial details, provides strong information on the land asset of the farmers.”
The bank has partnered with agri-fintech companies specialising in harnessing space technology and weather information for commercial usage. The analysis is put together using algorithms to scour images available from satellites around the planet.
Additionally, Icici has worked on further scoring models to create indices at 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, to deliver detailed inputs to credit assessments.