Nedbank takes disruptive tech route for better farming

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Nedbank has announced it has taken a minority equity interest in Aerobotics (Pty) Ltd, a disruptive technology company that builds advanced analytics on top of aerial drone and satellite imagery to deliver precision farming tools for clients.

Brian Kennedy, managing executive of Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking, says this is the first equity deal for CIB’s Venture Capital team.

“Aerobotics uses satellites and drones to capture bird’s eye view multispectral images of orchards to help farmers optimise yields and manage costs, “he says. “It processes the aerial data through an in-house analytics programme, which makes use of machine learning to help farmers assess crop health and control for pests and disease. “

An aerial imagery and analytics experiment Nedbank conducted with Aerobotics by flying drones over pecan nut farms of a prospective agricultural client has won a tech projects award from The Banker magazine

Kennedy says the technology, which can assess the health of individual trees within an orchard, is currently used across 60 000 hectares of arable land – equivalent to around 500 farms in SA, Australia, France, Spain and the USA.

He says CIB is at the forefront of investing in the technology industry and introducing clients to disruptive innovation.

“Firstly, we partner with the business through experimentation and distribute the innovation to improve not only our own growth but also improve efficiencies within our clients’ businesses along with banking solutions. Secondly, under the Venture Capital mandate, we invest in technology companies that are category defining, working alongside the management teams to scale their businesses.

“Our experimentation methodology, working with financial technology companies and technology partners, allows us to match the speed of a fintech while testing the value and suitability of the technology in the banking environment.

“We believe that with the advent of new alternative data sources and advanced analytics, real time operational data is an alternative indicator of risk compared to current, traditional financial and valuation methodologies.”

Our experimentation methodology, working with financial technology companies and technology partners, allows us to match the speed of a fintech while testing the value and suitability of the technology in the banking environment.

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