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Title:
AGRICULTURAL TRANSACTION SYSTEM AND METHOD OF OPERATING SAME
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/113703
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention relates to an electronic agricultural transaction system and a method of operating same. The system comprises, a database to receive and store financial data associated with a plurality of accounts associated with one or both of famers and/or farms; 5 an information utility module to determine or receive agricultural data associated with the farms; an association module to store and associate, in the database, the determined agricultural data with corresponding financial data; an aggregation module to determine an aggregated demand for goods and/or services by a first group of farmers and/or farms, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and/or determine an aggregated 10 purchasing power and/or a line of credit of the first group of famers and/or associated farms, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and a payment processing module to facilitate payment for goods and/or services purchased by the first group.

Inventors:
DREWES HELMUT ERWIN (DE)
VAN DER WALT BRIENNE (ZA)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2016/050191
Publication Date:
July 21, 2016
Filing Date:
January 15, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ABSA BANK LTD (ZA)
International Classes:
G06Q40/00
Foreign References:
US20010032165A12001-10-18
US20040073498A12004-04-15
US20120284320A12012-11-08
US20020069156A12002-06-06
US20020059091A12002-05-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PILLAY, Vishen et al. (Level 3,,21 Richefond Circle,,Ridgeside Office Park, Umhlanga Ridge 4319 Durban, ZA)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An electronic agricultural transaction system comprising: a database configured to receive and store financial data associated with a plurality of financial accounts associated with users of the system, wherein at least some or all of the financial accounts are associated with one or both of agriculturist users with associated agricultural areas, and agricultural areas associated with agriculturist users; an information utility module configured to determine or receive agricultural data associated with the associated agricultural areas, the agricultural data being indicative of one or more of a geographical location, type, and size of the associated agricultural areas; an association module configured to store and associate, in the database, the determined or received agricultural data with the corresponding financial data associated with respective agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas; an aggregation module configured to: determine an aggregated demand for goods and/or services by a first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and/or determine one or both of an aggregated purchasing power and line of credit of the first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and a payment processing module configured to facilitate or process payment for goods and/or services purchased by the first group from the respective financial accounts associated therewith.

2. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the payment processing module is configured to process payment for goods and/or services purchased at a cost based on one or both of at least the determined aggregated demand for said goods and/or services, and the determined purchasing power of the first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas.

3. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the payment processing module is configured to pre-approve purchase of goods and/or services based on agricultural data and/or financial data stored in the database.

4, A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the aggregation module is configured to identify or determine a first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas by interrogating the financial and/or agricultural data stored in the database and selecting agriculturist users and/or agricultural areas with one or more of substantially similar agricultural data, financial data, and purchases or requirements of similar goods and/or services to form the first group. 5. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the system comprises a promotions module configured to use one or both of the determined aggregated demand, and aggregated purchasing power to obtain good and/or services at discounted costs; determine promotion data related to said goods; and transmit the determined promotion data to the first group of users associated with one or both of the determined aggregated demand and aggregated purchasing power.

6. A system as claimed in claim 5, wherein the promotion data is one or more of location, goods, and services specific.

7. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the agricultural areas are farms, wherein the agricultural data comprises geospatial data comprising one or more of information indicative of a biomass data overlay of the associated farms, images of the farms, and geographical mapping of the farms.

8. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the agricultural areas are farms and the agriculturist users are farmers, wherein the agricultural data comprises trended risk management data comprising information indicative of one or more of rainfall, soil information, hail, yield, insurance claims for each farm associated with each farmer associated with the system, wherein the trended risk management data is usable by the system to determine at least credit risk profiles of the farms and/or the associated farmers, and wherein the credit risk profile determined is stored in the database and is used by the system to determine credit facilities for the farmers and/or the associated farms in an automated fashion.

9. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the agricultural areas are farms and the agriculturist users are farmers, wherein the database stores at least a farm profile associated with one or both of a farmer, and an associated farm, and wherein the farm profile is associated with respective financial data in the database.

10. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the agricultural areas are farms and the agriculturist users are farmers, and wherein the aggregation module is configured to group together similar farmers and/or farms to the first group based on at least geographical locations of the farms associated therewith.

11. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the agricultural areas are farms and the agriculturist users are farmers, and wherein the aggregation module is configured to analyse financial data associated with a plurality of farmers stored in the database; and determine spend patterns associated with farmers in the first group to determine market demand for goods and/or services.

12. A system as claimed in claim 1 1 , wherein the financial data comprises financial planning data associated with each farmer and/or farm, and wherein the financial planning data forms part of the financial data and is linked to the agricultural data associated with the associated farm in the database.

13. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the system comprises: a database system comprising the database; and a banking server system providing the plurality of financial accounts in the form of transactional accounts, wherein the transactional accounts are accessible via transactional cards associated with said accounts.

14. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the agricultural areas are farms and the agriculturist users are farmers, and wherein the system comprises an off-take aggregation module configured to determine an aggregated market demand for agricultural products produced by a second group of similar farmers, wherein the second group of similar farmers have farms associated therewith which produce substantially similar agricultural products and/or have similar agricultural data associated with associated farms.

15. A computer implemented method of operating an electronic transaction system, wherein the method comprises: receiving and storing, in a database, financial data associated with a plurality of financial accounts associated with users of the system, wherein at least some or all of the financial accounts are associated with one or both of agriculturist users and agricultural areas associated therewith; determining or receiving, via an information utility module, agricultural data associated with the agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, the agricultural data being indicative of one or more of a geographical location of the associated agricultural areas, and a type and/or size of the agricultural areas; storing and associating, in the database via an association module, the determined or received agricultural data with the corresponding financial data associated with respective agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas; determining, via an aggregation module, an aggregated demand for goods and/or services by a first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and/or one or both of an aggregated purchasing power and line of credit of the first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and processing payment for goods and/or services purchased, via a payment processing module, by the first group from the respective financial accounts associated therewith.

16. A method as claimed in claim 15, wherein the agricultural areas are farms and the agriculturist users are farmers, and wherein the method comprises determining agricultural data associated with farmers and/or associated farms, wherein the determined agricultural data comprises one or more of geospatial data including one or more of information indicative of a biomass data overlay of associated farms, images of the farms, and geographical mapping of the farms, and determined trended risk management data comprising information indicative of one or more of rainfall, soil information, hail, yield, insurance claims for each farm associated with each farmer associated with the system.

17. A method as claimed in claim 15, wherein the agricultural areas are farms and the agriculturist users are farmers, and wherein the method comprises operating the aggregation module to group together similar farmers to the first group based on at least geographical locations of the farms associated therewith.

18. A method as claimed in claim 15, wherein the method comprises operating the aggregation module to determine spend patterns associated with farmers in the first group to determine demand for goods and/or services by interrogating financial data associated with farmers.

19. A method as claimed in claim 15, wherein the agricultural areas are farms and the agriculturist users are farmers, and wherein the method comprises determining, via an offtake aggregation module, an aggregated market demand for agricultural products produced by a second group of similar farmers, wherein the second group of similar farmers have farms associated therewith which produce substantially similar agricultural products and/or have similar agricultural data associated therewith.

20. A non-transitory computer readable storage medium comprising a set of instructions, which when executed by a computing device causes the same to: receive and store, in a database, financial data associated with a plurality of financial accounts associated with users of the system, wherein at least some or all of the financial accounts are associated with one or both of agriculturist users and agricultural areas associated therewith; determine or receive, via an information utility module, agricultural data associated with the agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, the agricultural data being indicative of one or more of a geographical location of the associated agricultural areas, and a type and/or size of the agricultural areas; store and associate, in the database via an association module, the determined or received agricultural data with the corresponding financial data associated with respective agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas; determine, via an aggregation module, an aggregated demand for goods and/or services by a first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and/or one or both of an aggregated purchasing power and line of credit of the first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and process payment for goods and/or services purchased, via a payment processing module, by the first group from the respective financial accounts associated therewith.

Description:
AGRICULTURAL TRANSACTION SYSTEM AND METHOD OF OPERATING SAME

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

THIS INVENTION relates to a transaction system, particularly an agricultural transaction system and to a method of operating same.

Conventionally, financial institutions such as banks would provide credit to farmers and said farmers would then each utilise credit and credit facilities provided thereto accordingly for various financial transactions pertaining to the operation of their farms.

However, one drawback with this approach is that the credit provided to farmers often ends up not being effectively managed. In addition, having credit provided to farmers in this fashion does not necessarily benefit farmers as they are still at the mercy of suppliers and buyers which generally add large margins for brokering supply and purchase deals.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to address the abovementioned problems and to provide at least an alternate agricultural transaction system.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided an electronic agricultural transaction system comprising: a database configured to receive and store financial data associated with a plurality of financial accounts associated with users of the system, wherein at least some or all of the financial accounts are associated with one or both of agriculturist users with associated agricultural areas, and agricultural areas associated with agriculturist users; an information utility module configured to determine or receive agricultural data associated with the associated agricultural areas, the agricultural data being indicative of one or more of a geographical location, type, and size of the associated agricultural areas; an association module configured to store and associate, in the database, the determined or received agricultural data with the corresponding financial data associated with respective agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas; an aggregation module configured to: determine an aggregated demand for goods and/or services by a first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and/or determine one or both of an aggregated purchasing power and line of credit of the first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and a payment processing module configured to facilitate or process payment for goods and/or services purchased by the first group from the respective financial accounts associated therewith.

The payment processing module may be configured to process payment for goods and/or services purchased at a cost based on one or both of at least the determined aggregated demand for said goods and/or services, and the determined purchasing power of the first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas.

The payment processing module may be configured to pre-approve purchase of goods and/or services based on agricultural data and/or financial data stored in the database.

The aggregation module may be configured to identify or determine a first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas by interrogating the financial and/or agricultural data stored in the database and selecting agriculturist users and/or agricultural areas with one or more of substantially similar agricultural data, financial data, and purchases or requirements of similar goods and/or services to form the first group.

The system may comprise a promotions module configured to use one or both of the determined aggregated demand, and aggregated purchasing power to obtain good and/or services at discounted costs; determine promotion data related to said goods; and transmit the determined promotion data to the first group of users associated with one or both of the determined aggregated demand and aggregated purchasing power.

The promotion data may be one or more of location, goods, and services specific.

For brevity, the term "farm/s" will be used to describe agricultural area/s and the "farmer/s" will be used to describe the agriculturist user/s. It will be further noted that the farmers referred to herein are users of the system. It will be noted that the farms may be associated with crops and/or livestock as the case may be which produce corresponding agricultural products or commodities which are offered for purchase and/or sold to purchasers thereof, or colloquially, off-takers. The agricultural areas may be farms, wherein the agricultural data may comprise geospatial data comprising one or more of information indicative of a biomass data overlay of the associated farms, images of the farms, and geographical mapping of the farms.

The agriculturist users may be farmers, wherein the agricultural data may comprise trended risk management data comprising information indicative of one or more of rainfall, soil information, hail, yield, insurance claims for each farm associated with each farmer associated with the system, wherein the trended risk management data is usable by the system to determine at least credit risk profiles of the farms and/or the associated farmers, and wherein the credit risk profile determined is stored in the database and is used by the system to determine credit facilities for the farmers and/or the associated farms in an automated fashion.

The database may store at least a farm profile associated with one or both of an agriculturist user, and an farm, which farm profile is stored in the database and associated with the financial data

The aggregation module may be configured to group together similar farmers and/or farms to the first group based on at least geographical locations of the farms associated therewith.

The aggregation module may be configured to analyse financial data associated with a plurality of farmers stored in the database; and determine spend patterns associated with farmers in the first group to determine market demand for goods and/or services. The financial data may comprise financial planning data associated with each farmer and/or farm, and wherein the financial planning data forms part of the financial data and may be linked to the agricultural data associated with the associated farm in the database. In this way, market demand and supply for a particular region may be determined without compromising the privacy of the account holder.

It will be noted that the financial data may also comprise transaction data associated with transactions on the financial accounts by the farmers. The aggregation module may be configured to interrogate financial data associated with farmers. The aggregation module may be configured to effectively determine creditworthiness of the first group, for example, by means of a pre-approval of purchase orders.

The system may comprise: a database system comprising the database; and a banking server system providing the plurality of financial accounts in the form of transactional accounts, wherein the transactional accounts are accessible via transactional cards associated with said accounts.

In essence, the card may effectively facilitate the system establishing a financial identity, i.e. links credit and available cash into one spend profile. This profile may be linked to a farming portfolio. The card may be linked to the accounts of the users of the first group and payment is processed from said accounts as mentioned above so as to create a closed loop payment system between farmers and merchants, in use.

The agricultural areas may be farms and the agriculturist users may be farmers, and wherein the system may comprise an off-take aggregation module configured to determine an aggregated market demand for agricultural products produced by a second group of similar farmers, wherein the second group of similar farmers have farms associated therewith which produce substantially similar agricultural products and/or have similar agricultural data associated with associated farms. For example, farmers of crop A in a particular geographic radius may be grouped together in the second group and an aggregated crop A from farmers in the second group may be passed on or sold to off-takers with less burden and stress on the farmers.

The off-take aggregation module may be configured to interrogate the agricultural data stored in the database, or in other words the various farming profiles stored in the database, thereby to determine an aggregated production output or agricultural output for sale to suitable off-takers. The payment processing module may be configured to facilitate payment for agricultural products purchased by the off-takers. To this end, the payment processing module may be configured to debit financial accounts of the off-takers and credit financial accounts of the users. It will be appreciate that the database may store information associated with transaction accounts of the off-takers and merchants, including input suppliers.

In one example embodiment, the system may be configured to interrogate the transaction accounts and/or financial data so as to perform a step of matching a determined demand for goods and/or services to appropriate merchants and similarly determined market demand for agricultural products to off-takers, in an automated computer implemented manner.

In one example embodiment, initially, supply and demand may be determined from the financial planning data. However, linking financial planning data with transaction data may refine the determination. The system may comprise a communication module configured to facilitate communication between the system and communication devices associated with the farmers, and operators associated with the system.

According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a computer implemented method of operating an electronic transaction system, wherein the method comprises: receiving and storing, in a database, financial data associated with a plurality of financial accounts associated with users of the system, wherein at least some or all of the financial accounts are associated with one or both of agriculturist users and agricultural areas associated therewith; determining or receiving, via an information utility module, agricultural data associated with the agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, the agricultural data being indicative of one or more of a geographical location of the associated agricultural areas, and a type and/or size of the agricultural areas; storing and associating, in the database via an association module, the determined or received agricultural data with the corresponding financial data associated with respective agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas; determining, via an aggregation module, an aggregated demand for goods and/or services by a first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and/or one or both of an aggregated purchasing power and line of credit of the first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and processing payment for goods and/or services purchased, via a payment processing module, by the first group from the respective financial accounts associated therewith.

As mentioned above, for brevity, the term "farm/s" will be used to describe agricultural area/s and the "farmer/s" will be used to describe the agriculturist user/s.

The agricultural areas may be farms and the agriculturist users may be farmers, and wherein the method may comprise determining agricultural data associated with farmers and/or associated farms, wherein the determined agricultural data may comprise one or more of geospatial data including one or more of information indicative of a biomass data overlay of associated farms, images of the farms, and geographical mapping of the farms, and determined trended risk management data comprising information indicative of one or more of rainfall, soil information, hail, yield, insurance claims for each farm associated with each farmer associated with the system.

The method may be configured to use the trended risk management data to determine a credit risk profile of the farms and/or the associated farmers. The method may comprise using the determined credit risk profile to determine credit facilities for the farmer, for example, in an automated fashion.

The agricultural areas may be farms and the agriculturist users may be farmers, and wherein the method may comprise operating the aggregation module to group together similar farmers to the first group based on at least geographical locations of the farms associated therewith. The method may comprise operating the aggregation module to determine spend patterns associated with farmers in the first group to determine demand for goods and/or services by interrogating financial data associated with farmers.

The financial account of the farmers may be a transactional account of the farmer, accessible via at least by a financial transaction card. The method may comprise determining, via an off-take aggregation module, an aggregated market demand for agricultural products produced by a second group of similar farmers, wherein the second group of similar farmers have farms associated therewith which produce substantially similar agricultural products and/or have similar agricultural data associated therewith.

The method may essentially comprise providing a virtual marketplace to farmers.

The method may comprise processing, via the payment processing module, payment for agricultural products purchased by the off-takers. To this end, the payment processing module may be configured to debit financial accounts of the off-takers and credit financial accounts of the users.

The method may comprise providing the database as described above to the system.

According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a non-transitory computer readable storage medium comprising a set of instructions, which when executed by a computing device causes the same to: receive and store, in a database, financial data associated with a plurality of financial accounts associated with users of the system, wherein at least some or all of the financial accounts are associated with one or both of agriculturist users and agricultural areas associated therewith; determine or receive, via an information utility module, agricultural data associated with the agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, the agricultural data being indicative of one or more of a geographical location of the associated agricultural areas, and a type and/or size of the agricultural areas; store and associate, in the database via an association module, the determined or received agricultural data with the corresponding financial data associated with respective agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas; determine, via an aggregation module, an aggregated demand for goods and/or services by a first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and/or one or both of an aggregated purchasing power and line of credit of the first group of agriculturist users and/or associated agricultural areas, based on stored agricultural data and/or financial data; and process payment for goods and/or services purchased, via a payment processing module, by the first group from the respective financial accounts associated therewith. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 shows a schematic diagram of a network comprising a system in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention;

Figure 2 shows a schematic diagram of a system in accordance with the invention in more detail;

Figure 3 shows another schematic diagram of a technology model of a system in

accordance with an example embodiment of the invention; and

Figure 4 shows a diagrammatic representation of a machine in the example form of a computer system in which a set of instructions for causing the machine to perform any one or more of the methodologies discussed herein, may be executed.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of an embodiment of the present disclosure. It will be evident, however, to one skilled in the art that the present disclosure may be practiced without these specific details.

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the same parts described in the different embodiments are denoted by the same reference numbers and the same component names and the disclosures made throughout the description can be transposed in terms of meaning to same parts bearing the same reference numbers or same component names.

Referring to Figure 1 of the drawings, a network 10 in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention is illustrated to comprise a financial transaction system 12 also in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention. The financial transaction system 12 is typically an agricultural transaction system 12 for use primarily by agriculturist users or in other words farmers 14 having agricultural areas or farms generating agricultural commodities/products. In one example embodiment, the system 12 is configured to provide, or store information indicative of, a financial transaction account for each farmer 14. The farmer 14 may deposit funds in the transaction account associated therewith and may use their transaction account in a conventional fashion. The farmer 14 may use their financial account with a transactional card. Though the farmer 14 may be the operator or user of the account, it will be appreciate that the account may be held in the name of the farm. The system 12 may therefore be configured to receive deposits of funds or information indicative thereof from farmers 14. The system 12 is also configured to receive business plans from farmers 14, and also agricultural data comprising location information (geographic information), size information (total land area) and type information (livestock, and/or crop farm) associated with a farm of a farmer 14 as will be discussed below. The agricultural data may be linked to the financial transaction accounts associated with farmers.

By linking the transactional accounts of the farmers 14 to the agricultural data information associated therewith, the system 12 is configured to group together farmers 14 having similar agricultural data, for example, having farms of the same type, in the same location, and of the same type, in a first grouping, so as to aggregate demand for goods and/or services needed or required by farmers 14 as will be described below. In this way, the system 12 may be configured to leverage purchasing power of the farmers 14 to purchase the required goods and/or service offered for sale by merchants 16, wherein the merchants 16 is broadly defined to also comprise input suppliers, etc. For example, crop farmers 14 in area A all require fertiliser B, and grouping or aggregating the demand of the farmers 14 in area A for fertiliser B will enable the system 12 to leverage the purchasing power of the farmers 14 in area A to obtain a discounted or preferred cost for fertiliser B from the merchant 16.

Similarly, aggregated purchasing power including an aggregated credit may be determined by the system 10 of similar farmers 14.

The merchants 16 may be retailers, vendors, or the like of goods and/or services which farmers 14 require.

The system 12 is configured to process payment from the financial accounts of the farmers 14 to the merchants 16, for example, transferring funds from the transaction accounts of farmers 14 of the first group, to the an account associated at the merchant 16.

It will be noted that the system 12 may form part of a conventional banking system as will be described below.

The system 12 is also configured to group together farmers 14 producing similar agricultural commodities and also having similar agricultural data, in a second grouping, so as to aggregate a demand for an off-taker of the similar agricultural commodities.

Though one farmer 14 and merchant 16 is shown for ease of illustration, the system 12 may be useable by a plurality of operators. Figure 2 of the drawings shows the network 10 and system 12 of Figure 1 in more detail to provide a better understanding of the functionality and/or operation thereof. To this end, the system 12 may comprise a plurality of components or modules which correspond to the functional tasks to be performed by the system 12. In this regard, "module" in the context of the specification will be understood to include an identifiable portion of code, computational or executable instructions, data, or computational object to achieve a particular function, operation, processing, or procedure. It follows that a module need not be implemented in software; a module may be implemented in software, hardware, or a combination of software and hardware. Further, the modules need not necessarily be consolidated into one device but may be spread across a plurality of devices, for example, across the network 10 to provide functionality as described herein. Though the modules are described with reference to the functions which they perform, it will be understood that the modules described herein may overlap in functionality as the case may be.

The system 12 comprises a database 18 storing data therein. The database 18 may be configured to receive and store financial data associated with a plurality of financial accounts associated with users of the system, particularly farmers 14. It will be noted that the database 16 may comprise or form part of a database system associated with a financial institution such as a bank which provides the financial accounts. In example embodiments, the database 18 may store an account, information indicative thereof, or an account profile of each farmer 14, wherein each profile comprises information indicative of and associated with the financial account/s of the farmer 14 and associated agricultural data as will be described below. The account profile may comprise associated financial data indicative of the transactions on the account and/or financial planning data. Financial planning data may be determined by the agricultural data described below in certain example embodiments. The system 12 further comprises an information utility module 20 configured to determine or receive agricultural data associated with the farmers 14. As previously mentioned, the agricultural data may be indicative of one or more of geographical location information, and type and/or size information of farms associated with the farmers 14. In some example embodiments, the agricultural data for each farmer 14 may comprise geospatial data including information indicative of a biomass data overlay of an associated farm, images of the farm, geographical mapping of the farm, and the like. This data may be fed into the system by the farmer/bank employee and/or may be captured automatically or autonomously.

In determining agricultural data, the module 20 may be configured to determine or receive trended risk management data comprising information indicative of rainfall, soil information, hail, yield, insurance claims for each farm associated with each farmer. This data may be fed into the system by the farmer/bank employee and/or may be captured automatically or autonomously. The module 20 may aggregate this data for each farmer and/or similar grouping of farmers 14. In this way, the agricultural data determined by the module 20 may also be used to determine a credit risk profile of the farms and/or the associated farmers 14, which may be used when determining credit lines or facilities to extend to the farmer, for example, in an automated fashion. This credit risk profile may form part of the financial planning data mentioned above.

In any event, the system 12 also comprises an association module 22 configured to store and associate, in the database 18, the determined or received agricultural data for a farmer 14 with the financial account, account profile, and/or corresponding financial data associated therewith. In this way, details regarding at least one farm of the farmer 14 are linked to a transactional account of the farmer 14. It will be noted that a plurality of farms may be linked to one transactional account of the farmer 14 and may be identified uniquely. Similarly, the farmer 14 may have a plurality of financial accounts associated therewith, each corresponding to a different farm.

The system 12 also comprises an aggregation module 24 configured to determine an aggregated demand for goods and/or services by a first group of similar farmers 14; and/or an aggregated purchasing power or credit of the first group by using the stored agricultural data and/or financial data. In one example embodiment, the module 24 may be configured to group, into the first group, farmers 14 having substantially similar agricultural data associated therewith, for example, all are substantially in geographical area A, have farms of type B of around size C producing agricultural products D. The module 24 may therefore be configured to substantially match agricultural data associated with farmers 14 together so as to group the same to the first group.

Instead, or in addition, all farmers 14 requiring similar goods and/or services from merchants 16, for example, particular merchants 16 may be grouped by the module 24 into the first group. The module 24 may be configured to interrogate statements of transactions associated with farmers 14 and/or transaction accounts thereof so as to group the farmers 14 into the first group based on similar goods and/services historically purchased via their transactional accounts.

In any event, the module 24 may be configured to interrogate the transaction accounts and/or financial statements of farmers 14 in the first group to determine spend patterns associated therewith, wherein the spend patterns are based on historic purchases by farmers 14 for goods and/or services. It will be noted that as described above, the transaction accounts may be accessed by transaction or bank cards, the spend pattern may thus be indicative of a card swipe pattern of farmers 14.

The spend patterns are indicative of similar goods and/services required by the first group of farmers and is usable by the module 24 to aggregate demand for the goods and/or services for the next purchase thereof by the farmers 14 in the first group. In this regard, the module 24 may be configured to determine the merchants 16 which the farmers 14 historically use so as to utilise aggregated demand to obtain discounts of purchases of goods and/or services.

It will be noted that though the system 12 may use various ways to determine the first group, it is important that the demand for goods and/or services is determined, which demand is important in leveraging the purchasing power of the first group of farmers 14.

In one example embodiment, the database 18 may store account information, and/or account profiles associated with merchants 16 therein, as well as an indication of the goods and/or services offered thereby including discount structure data indicative of discounts which the merchants 16 are prepared to tender for certain levels of demand. In this way, the aggregation module 24 may more easily select merchants 16 to facilitate purchase of goods and/or services. For example, the module 24 may utilise the determined demand to automatically calculate discounts applicable across multiple merchants 16 and select, in a relatively automated fashion, the merchant 16 which effectively will offer the greatest discount.

The system 12 also comprises a payment processing module 26 configured to facilitate payment for goods and/or services purchased by the first group of farmers 14 from a merchant 16 at a cost based on at least the determined aggregated demand for said goods and/or services. It follows that the module 26 may access the financial accounts of the farmers 14 of the first group to this end, including an account of the merchant 16 so as to transfer funds. It will be noted that the module 26 may facilitate direct payments to merchants 16 from the accounts of the farmers 14. The financial accounts utilised to process the payment may be the accounts associated with the system 10, for example, provided by the system 10. The system 12 may also comprise an off-take aggregation module 28 configured to determine an aggregated market demand for agricultural products or commodities produced by a second group of similar farmers 14. The second group of similar farmers 14 usually have farms associated therewith which produce substantially similar agricultural products and/or have similar agricultural data associated therewith. For example, farmers 14 alls producing crop A in a particular geographic radius may be grouped together in the second group and an aggregated crop A from farmers in the second group may be passed on or sold to off-takers 29 with less burden and stress on the farmers. In one example embodiment, the merchants 16 may include the off-takers 29 as well as input suppliers. The module 28 may be configured to monitor agricultural data associated with farmers 14, for example, their production portfolio or in other words their agricultural product output, over a particular season so as to enable supply from the farmers 14 to the off-takers 29 to be determined.

It will be appreciated that in a similar manner as described above, the payment processing module 26 may be configured to facilitate payment for agricultural products purchased by the off-takers 29. To this end, the payment processing module 26 may be configured to debit financial accounts of the off-takers 29 and credit financial accounts of the farmer 14.

The system 12 may comprise a communication module 30 configured to facilitate communication between the system 12 and communication devices associated with the farmers 14, merchants 16, off-takers 29, bank operators 34, via a communication network 36.

The communication network 36 may be a mobile or fixed line telecommunications network. The communications network 36 may be a packet-switched network and may form part of the Internet. Instead, the communications network 108 may be a circuit switched network, public switched data network, or the like. In any event, the module 36 enables the system 12 to communicate via various digital and/or analogue communication platforms.

It will be understood that the system 12 may comprise one or more processors or a processing system (not illustrated) suitable, under instruction or direction from suitable non- transitory computer readable instructions read thereby, to provide or direct operation of the modules described herein. In one example embodiment, the system 12 is provided by one or more networked servers to provide the functionality described herein, the processor and database thus being associated with components provided by the server/s. The system 12 may comprise a conventional bank server system 38 as illustrated. However, the system 12 is more likely to be provided by the conventional bank server system 38 associated with a bank or financial institution providing financial accounts and services to a plurality of users. The system 38 typically comprises a plurality of networked geographically spread servers having a database network spread out over the servers, wherein the database 18 may form part of said database network. The farmer 14, and at least the bank operator 36 (banker 36), may interact with the system 12 via a user interface module 40 provided by the system 12. The module 40 is configured to facilitate interaction between the system 12 and the bankers 36 via a banker software application (not shown) which may be downloaded to a computing device (not shown) associated with the banker 36. Similarly, the module 40 is configured to facilitate interaction between the system 12 and the bankers 36 via a farmer software application (not shown) which may be downloaded to a computing device (not shown) associated with the farmer 14. The module 40 may further be configured to facilitate interaction between the system 12 and interested parties via a partner software application (not shown) which may be downloaded to a computing device (not shown) associated with the partner (not shown).

The system 10 may comprise a promotions module 39 configured to use the determined aggregated demand or aggregated purchasing power to obtain good and/or services at discounted costs; and generate promotions related thereto. The promotions module 39 may be configured to transmit the determined promotions to the first group of users associated with the aggregated purchasing power. The promotions may be one or both of location specific, and goods and/or services specific. Payment for goods and/or services purchased may be processed by way of the module 26 as described above.

An example embodiment of the invention will now be further described in use with reference to Figure 3. The example method shown in Figure 3 is described with reference to Figures 1 and 2, although it is to be appreciated that the example method may be applicable to other systems (not illustrated) as well.

Figure 3 shows a high-level flow diagram of a method in accordance with an example embodiment of the invention is generally indicated by reference numeral 40. The method 40 is typically an agricultural transaction or finance method or a method of operating an agricultural transaction or finance system, for example, the system 12 as herein before described.

The method 40 may be carried out at a financial institution such as a bank or a third party institution having access to transaction account information associated with farmers 14, and the like.

In any event, the method 40 comprises the step of receiving and storing, at block 42 in the database 18, financial data associated with a plurality of financial accounts associated with users of the system, wherein at least some of the users are farmers 14 as described above. The method 40 may comprise a prior step of registering farmers 14 to use the system 12.

The method 40 may comprise determining or receiving, at block 44 via the information utility module 20, agricultural data associated with the farmers 14 as described above. The method 40 may comprise receiving at least some agricultural data upon registering the farmers 14 to the system 12. The method 40 may comprise determining at least some agricultural information via the module 20 over time and/or upon registration.

The method 40 then comprises storing and associating, at block 46 in the database 18 via the association module 22, the determined or received agricultural data for a farmer 14 with the financial account and/or corresponding financial data associated therewith as described above. In this way, details of a farm associated with a farmer 14 are linked to a transaction account thereof.

The method 40 further comprises determining, at block 48 via the aggregation module 24, an aggregated demand for goods and/or services by a first group of similar farmers 14; and/or an aggregated purchasing power for goods and/or services as described above. It will be noted that the step in block 48 may comprise determining the first group of similar farmers 14 in a manner, for example, as herein described. The aggregated purchasing power may be an aggregated credit facility associated with farmers 14 in the first group. Though not illustrated, the method 40 may comprise the step of determining, via the module 24, a suitable merchant 16 to purchase goods and/or services from or to obtain a discount on the purchase price for goods and/or services based on the aggregated purchasing power.

The method 40 further comprises processing, at block 50 via the payment processing module 26, payment for goods and/or services purchased by the first group of farmers 14 from a merchant 16 based on at least the determined aggregated demand for said goods and/or services. The cost of goods and/or services purchased in this manner is discounted from that which would be obtained by the farmers 14 sans the system 12.

Though not illustrated, the method 40 further comprises determining, via the off-take aggregation module 28, an aggregated market demand for agricultural commodities or products produced by a second group of similar farmers as described above. The method 40 comprising the step of determining the second group of farmers 14, for example, in a manner hereinbefore described. The method 40 may further comprise, also not illustrated, the steps of determining, via the module 28, a suitable off-taker 29 to sell the aggregated agricultural commodities to; and processing payment from the off-takers 29 to the farmers 14 in the second group accordingly in the manner described above by way of the module 26. It will be understood that the method 40 may comprise steps of arranging logistics to transport goods and/or services from merchants 16 to farmers 14; and from farmers to off- takers 29 as the case may be.

Figure 4 shows a diagrammatic representation of machine in the example of a computer system 100 within which a set of instructions, for causing the machine to perform any one or more of the methodologies discussed herein, may be executed. In other example embodiments, the machine operates as a standalone device or may be connected (e.g., networked) to other machines. In a networked example embodiment, the machine may operate in the capacity of a server or a client machine in server-client network environment, or as a peer machine in a peer-to-peer (or distributed) network environment. The machine may be a personal computer (PC), a tablet PC, a set-top box (STB), a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), a cellular telephone, a web appliance, a network router, switch or bridge, or any machine capable of executing a set of instructions (sequential or otherwise) that specify actions to be taken by that machine. Further, while only a single machine is illustrated for convenience, the term "machine" shall also be taken to include any collection of machines that individually or jointly execute a set (or multiple sets) of instructions to perform any one or more of the methodologies discussed herein.

In any event, the example computer system 100 includes a processor 102 (e.g., a central processing unit (CPU), a graphics processing unit (GPU) or both), a main memory 104 and a static memory 106, which communicate with each other via a bus 108. The computer system 100 may further include a video display unit 110 (e.g., a liquid crystal display (LCD) or a cathode ray tube (CRT)). The computer system 100 also includes an alphanumeric input device 112 (e.g., a keyboard), a user interface (Ul) navigation device 114 (e.g., a mouse, or touchpad), a disk drive unit 1 16, a signal generation device 1 18 (e.g., a speaker) and a network interface device 120. The disk drive unit 16 includes a machine-readable medium 122 storing one or more sets of instructions and data structures (e.g., software 124) embodying or utilised by any one or more of the methodologies or functions described herein. The software 124 may also reside, completely or at least partially, within the main memory 104 and/or within the processor 102 during execution thereof by the computer system 100, the main memory 104 and the processor 102 also constituting machine-readable media. The software 124 may further be transmitted or received over a network 126 via the network interface device 120 utilising any one of a number of well-known transfer protocols (e.g., HTTP).

Although the machine-readable medium 122 is shown in an example embodiment to be a single medium, the term "machine-readable medium" may refer to a single medium or multiple media (e.g., a centralized or distributed database, and/or associated caches and servers) that store the one or more sets of instructions. The term "machine-readable medium" may also be taken to include any medium that is capable of storing, encoding or carrying a set of instructions for execution by the machine and that cause the machine to perform any one or more of the methodologies of the present invention, or that is capable of storing, encoding or carrying data structures utilised by or associated with such a set of instructions. The term "machine-readable medium" may accordingly be taken to include, but not be limited to, solid-state memories, optical and magnetic media, and carrier wave signals.

The invention as hereinbefore described addresses some of the problems hereinbefore mentioned. The invention further provides a convenient way to manage transactions of farmers without placing burden on the farmers as is the case with some conventional transaction methodologies used thereby. The computer implemented invention automates transactions for farmers thus maximising resources.