Geodata-driven approaches to financial inclusion – Addressing the challenge of proximity

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Financial Inclusion is, in many ways, a spatial planning issue: Where do financial institutions provide services, how far do customers travel to access mobile money, which services are available where and how is agent cash-flow handled? Utilising geodata can contribute significantly to measuring financial access and thus assist in improving Financial Inclusion by expanding the reach of services and locating areas of economic exclusion. This study presents a new Spatial Decision Support System, with a frontend embedded directly within a spreadsheet interface, that enables measuring and planning financial access through geospatial analysis and Earth Observation derived products. The purpose is to complement existing Financial Inclusion measures, which rely significantly on large-scale representative household surveys to quantify financial access and opportunity to proxy quality of inclusion. The Decision Support System relies on Earth Observation and Public Participatory GIS, which enables a decoupling from the census cycle and global reach. Our findings indicate that a geospatial approach to measuring and making decisions regarding the location of financial access points can positively affect both tracking and delivering Financial Inclusion and reducing the urban–rural service cliff-edge. Our proposed geospatial methodology is useful for decision-makers in two ways: a) It allows the measurement of the large-scale geospatial reach of financial services – useful for decision-makers, planners, politicians, national statistical offices, and NGOs in charge of tracking progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. b) It helps with planning and optimising services for local financial entities such as mobile money agents, brick and mortar bank branches, and less formal saving mechanisms such as saving clubs. The Spatial Decision Support System is currently used by several Financial Service Providers in Ghana and undergoing implementation for one in North-western Tanzania.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102325
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Copernicus programme
  • Decision support system
  • Earth observation
  • Financial inclusion
  • Sustainable development goals


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