BOB Financial Solutions Limited (BFSL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of Baroda (BoB), and CreditAI Fintech Pvt Ltd (CAI), a Singapore and Bengaluru based farmer digitisation and credit scoring company have launched Unnati – a co-branded credit card exclusively for farmers. The card has been launched as a contactless offering on the Visa network.
The Unnati Credit Card will empower Farmers to availagricultural inputs in time and at any-time during the cultivation cycle. Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) will further help farmers understand and avail the benefits of this card. The Unnati Credit Card will work in a ‘closed-loop system’ with an ‘end-use monitoring’ feature to both enable and trace agricultural credit to its last mile.
CreditAI’s proprietary mobile app and inputs shop management system will ensure that the end use of credit is primarily for purchase of inputs at FPO owned input sales shops. The Unnati Credit Card is uniquely designed to allow farmers to use credit on rotation basisso that it avoids delays in renewals. Initially, a base credit limit will be provided and over time, once the farmer’s credit profile improves with more transaction sand repayments, the limit could be increased based on the farmer’s personal credit score and their actual cultivation needs.
CreditAI aims to positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmers, aided by the Unnati Credit Card, which will first be launched in Karnataka and later scaled across Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and other states in India.
Speaking at the launch, Mr. Sangram Nayaka, CEO, CreditAI said “Indian Agri sector is in a phase where it is ready to adopt innovations not only in the way cultivation is done using farm mechanisation and automation or sale of produce online, but also in the way farmers are now banking and accessing credit through digital platforms. The situation smallholders face is high interest loans which can be dire with just one bad loan causing them to lose their farm. On the other hand, lenders too have underwriting challenges for this segment. That’s the very reason penetration of digital lending has not picked up pace as much as in the urban segments.”
To overcome these challenges, CreditAI has designed a secure closed-loop cashless network to ensure Financial Institutions can seamlessly deploy credit using CreditAI’s unique platforms. Repayments are easier and consistent. On the other hand, there is an enormous potential in the FPOs space for credit facilitation on the inputs side and produce trade. “CreditAI is on that path to enable and strengthen the network of farmers and FPOs,” he added. “Leveraging on this opportunity and space in the agri credit and lending segment, we have partnered with BFSL to create Unnati, the ‘Co-branded Closed Loop Credit Card system’ focussed on the rural and agri sector. We are sure this innovative Credit Card offering will make agri credit much easily accessible to farmers.”
Talking about the launch, Mr. Shailendra Singh, MD & CEO, BFSL said “We are excited to partner with CreditAI, a Fintech in the agricultural space. CreditAI is doing commendable work in bringing technology closer to the Famers through the FPOs’ closed loop networks. The Unnati co-branded Credit Card will bring seamless access to credit to farmers, as per the requirements of their cultivation cycles. To ensure that the farmers, many of whom will be new to digital or cashless credit, are protected from misuse of their credit card, Unnati will run as a Closed Loop Program and the card can only be used for agriculture related inputs from the respective FPO network. We thank CreditAI for coming up with this idea and also offering to be involved across the entire customer lifecycle, from identification to onboarding to customer education and repayment assistance. We have also offered a very low rate of interest, should the farmer not be able to repay the entire outstanding in one go. We believe that all the above measures will help in adaptation of cashless credit among the famers and this program will create another example of forward-looking, tech enabled interventions for Bharat. We are very excited and hopeful about this unique program targeted at the overall progress or Unnati of farmers.”
Sujai Raina, VP & Head-Business Development at Visa India, said “Visa is committed to being a network that works for everyone, everywhere; as such we are delighted to partner with BOB Financial Solutions as they launch this innovative, inclusive digital payments solution with CreditAI. The Unnati Credit Card will offer farmers easy access to credit aligned to their needs and by leveraging the Visa network, it will also provide them a means to make seamless and secure payments.”
CreditAI’s success in developing its technology would not have been possible without the investment and support from The Yield Lab Asia Pacific. Claire Pribula, Co-founder and Managing Director of The Yield Lab Asia Pacific said, “We are pleased to have been able to provide the necessary early-stage capital, and relevant seasoned subject matter expertise to support CreditAi’s journey through to commercialization. Smallholder farmers provide 80% of the world’s produce. This roll out with BOB Financial is a critical first step to supporting smallholder farmers to produce more sustainably. CreditAI will have a highly scalable impact by reducing borrowing rates significantly, rapidly extending loans to farmers where previously not possible, achieving high repayment rates and positively impacting millions of farmers and their families.”