Chinese bank uses satellite technology to facilitate loans for farmers
People's Daily Online

A bank in China has begun using satellite remote sensing technology to grant loans to farmers, as part of the efforts to control cost and shorten the application process.

A farmer applies for a loan on his phone. (Photo: agencies)

In September of this year, MYbank, China's first digital bank, began to promote loans using satellite remote sensing technology across the country. As of today, the product has covered one third of the counties in the country, with a total credit line of more than 80 billion yuan (11.92 billion U.S. dollars).

What exactly are loans related to satellite remote sensing technology? "To put it simply, the biggest feature of loans using satellite remote sensing technology is to incorporate the analysis results of artificial intelligence algorithms on satellite remote sensing images of farmland into the credit model built by banks, so as to more accurately identify the credit situation of farmers." Zou Jianbing, an expert on rural financial business at MYbank, said.

"At the beginning of the test, the team thought about using drones to shoot farmland and developing apps to allow farmers to photograph farmland, but after the test we found that the cost was relatively high and it would be difficult to popularize across the country. Thus we decided to introduce satellite remote sensing technology," Wang Jian, chief algorithm expert for rural finance at MYbank, shared.

Wang added that based on cloud computing, artificial intelligence and other technical capabilities, the current crop identification accuracy for satellite remote sensing technology of MYbank is more than 93 percent.

"By analyzing the images of farmland captured by satellite remote sensing, we can identify not only the size of farmland, but also the type, growth and yield of crops. According to this key information, combined with the comprehensive judgment of farmers' credit history, we can reasonably grant credit to farmers," Wang Jian added.

More than 50,000 farmers, including Liu Yingfeng, have received loans.

"I didn't submit any paperwork at the time of application; I didn't make a real estate mortgage, and I didn't see the account manager. The procedure is very simple, and the loan is very fast," said Liu Yingfeng, on his application for loans.

"If you want to win the trust of farmers, you must have excellent products and services in place," Zou Jianbing said, adding the loan related to satellite remote sensing technology can indeed solve the financial problems of farmers to a certain extent, especially in shortening the application process.

The bank has also been effective in cost control. Data shows that compared with the cost of a loan issued by a traditional bank, which often costs hundreds of yuan, to receive a loan using the satellite remote sensing technology only costs 2.3 yuan (about $0.34).

"Only by providing long-term financial services for farmers and controlling costs can we have sufficient motivation." Zou Jianbing said.