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Launching into space: using satellite imagery in financial services

This study is part of FiDA’s broader exploration of the promises and limitations of big data analytics in financial services, and it follows the insights presented in FiDA’s Focus Note, Can Big Data Shape Financial Services in East Africa? A number of the financial
service providers (FSPs) and FinTechs interviewed for the Focus Note identified the value of employing earth observation data to accelerate financial services, particularly given the dearth of commercially available traditional data in sub-Saharan Africa that could
be used to push digital finance forward. However, because financial service providers’ use of earth observation data is still nascent, the magnitude of earth observation’s predictive power in credit scoring and its application in other use cases is still relatively
unknown. Consequently, this case study endeavors to provide FSPs interested in leveraging non-traditional, alternative data with two relevant paths for using earth observation data. This case study explores lessons that Apollo and Harvesting learned in addressing smallholder farmer financing and provides early examples of how FSPs and FinTechs can begin working with earth observation data.

FiDA Partnership
The Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Finance in a Digital Africa (the “Partnership”) is an initiative of the Foundation’s Financial Inclusion Program. The Partnership catalyzes knowledge and insights to promote meaningful financial inclusion in an increasingly digital world. Led and hosted by Caribou Digital, the Partnership works closely with leading organizations and companies across the digital finance space. By aggregating and synthesizing knowledge, conducting research to address key gaps, and identifying implications for the diverse actors working in the space, the Partnership strives to inform decisions with facts, and to accelerate meaningful financial inclusion for people across sub-Saharan Africa.

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