Synchrony, a premier consumer financial services company, has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the University of Hyderabad (UoH) to help fund India’s first blockchain project for providing financial services to farmers in need throughout the country.
Farmers in India can face challenges in accessing funds due to factors such as income uncertainty and problems with monitoring asset utilization in remote villages. This blockchain project can bring all the parties together – from farmers to financing experts in the supply chain together to simplify the exchange of information and payments, Synchrony said.
This public-private partnership is a three-year partnership including a grant from Synchrony to the university for the project which will focus on leveraging the blockchain technology to help lenders provide financial assistance to farmers with no collateral and fixed assets. The project aims to make revolutionary changes in the Agri financing sector in India by introducing disruptive technology to help with financial resiliency.
The main objective of the project is to find ways on how technology can reduce the costs for marginal farmers who cannot access loans from formal channels of lending. Blockchain aims to bridge the gap by reducing information asymmetry between lenders and borrowers and ensures better monitoring of asset utilization.
The project also aims to provide artificial intelligence-based tools to project future cash flows of farmers. With better monitoring and more accurate cash flow predictions, the project hopes to improve the lenders’ trust and reduce the cost of borrowing to marginal farmers with no collateral for borrowing.
The project will be headed by Professor Vijaya Bhaskar Marisetty, Professor of Finance, University of Hyderabad. He has been working with farmers during the last three years and has extensive insights into the problems faced by farmers and lenders in the country.
Dr. Varsha Mamidi, Faculty member, Machine Learning, University of Hyderabad is a co-investigator in developing the blockchain. This will be India’s first financial services-based blockchain for a group of farmers in Tamil Nadu, associated with SEEDS NGO (Farmers Produce Organization). The blockchain will be built between farmers, SEEDS, and their primary lender Sammunati Financial Services (a leading Agri-based value chain financing NBFC in India). NIRMAAN.ORG, NGO, will coordinate the project.
“Through our partnership with the University of Hyderabad, we are helping to push the technology boundaries to help farmers reach their financial goals,” said Andy Ponneri, Senior Vice President and Business Leader, Synchrony India.
Professor Appa Rao, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hyderabad, welcomed the university’s first CSR funded project. “Such innovative models will help in bridging the gap between industry and academic institutions. University of Hyderabad thanks Synchrony for coming forward and paving the way to CSR based research projects in the University of Hyderabad,” he said.