Adding technology to agricultural finance
Imagine a time when you are at a farmland auction, and while you have cash on hand, the prices go up a little higher. You take out your smartphone, and in a few clicks, you are approved for a loan covering the rest of the purchase price. The loan approval is done within minutes.
A new partnership between Tillable and the regional agricultural credit union Compeer Financial makes this process a reality. The partners have created a fully digital loan application that takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
The new service has a limited geography: 144 counties in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. But this innovation shows what is possible with financial technology, or fintech, for the future.
“It’s really an expansion of our existing business,” says Corbett Kull, Founder and CEO of Tillable.
The new financial offering coincides with Tillable’s entry into the real estate brokerage market to help landowners buy and sell farms through the system.
“We looked to expand our offering for the farmer side of Tillable, and one of the issues we identified was the slow and cumbersome process for applying for a farmland loan,” says Kull. “Having gone through the farm finance process myself and seen how long it took to complete the application and how long it took to get a response, I found this personally frustrating.”
Kull spoke with other farmers and found the same frustration. Then he asked me, “It’s 2021. How come I can’t tell if I can get a loan instantly?”
This set him on the path to digitizing the loan application process. But tillable is not a lender, and for the “instant loan application” approach to work, it needed a partner who had developed an advanced loan application system.
“After hearing the need for more flexibility in financing, we worked on more digital options for our clients,” said Kelly Miller, director of agricultural technology finance at Compeer Financial. “This allows our customers to grab an application at their own pace and get quick results. “
This system, which involves important background information to help make smart loan approval decisions, has evolved over time. “We have a proven system and expertise behind it,” Miller adds.
A partnership is born
For Kull, learning that Compeer had already developed a technology-based loan approval system became an opportunity. The two companies had previously worked together on financing the rental of farmland.
“Compeer is looking at technology and we see them as very progressive,” Kull says.
The next step was to design a “front-end” application that connects a loan seeker to the Compeer system, allowing almost instant loan review. The information is then retransmitted via this application.
“We interact with their system, so we collect the farm information and feed it to Compeer,” Kull explains. “They will know instantly if the borrower is approved for the loan, what rate they are getting, and the different types of loans available.”
Kull says that in the process of exchanging information, Tillable does not keep any data on farmers. It simply acts as a gateway to the Compeer system.
Miller adds, “What we’ve seen from Tillable’s perspective is the digital-only, digital-first approach. What we are good at is making informed credit decisions, which is very relationship driven. We’ve worked to bring the two together, providing an interactive and easy-to-use app. It must complement our relationship and allow the choice of the customer.
Once this loan is approved by the system, the borrower can work with a Compeer financial agent to determine the best terms. Miller says it strengthens the relationship with customers.
You can find out more about the new service at tillable.com.