Financial services are undergoing a digital transformation that is changing the competitive landscape in the financial services, forcing traditional institutions to rethink the way they do business. Key trends driving the innovations include increasing the digital banking services, applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to internal and external data to predict events and support customers, making use of blockchain technology to streamline the lending process, enhancing customer experiences, mitigating the risks and increasing the investments towards sustainable Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) options to support the European Green Deal in channelling private investment to the transition to a climate-neutral economy.
These and other finance industry challenges require the transition from legacy systems to innovative solutions, where technology, that collects and mines data, can help standardize processes, ensure that procedures are followed correctly and consistently, and enable organizations to keep up with new regulatory/industry policy changes. There is an increased demand in managing cyber-related risks and protecting against cyberattacks in the financial services, which requires the identification and deployment of relevant cybersecurity measures and solutions. Relevant is the use of innovative technologies and practices such as quantum cryptography and quantum key distribution, combining with big data analytics, AI and Machine Learning to analyse communications patterns and operations data. Moreover, there is the challenge in delivering accessible and affordable financial services to small businesses and customers located in remote areas. This may be due to the limited data available to the financial institutions to assess the credit and insurance risk profiles for customers in remote areas or to the high operational costs for the financial institutions in serving remote areas.
The European Space Agency’s “Financial Services” Kick-Start offers support and funding to companies developing services exploiting how space technology can support financial services overcoming the above challenges, helping institutions to make sustainable financial decisions and developing applications and tools to satisfy customer expectations and increase the access for those in remote areas and developing countries.
TOPICS OF RELEVANCE
The following topics were identified for the Financial Services Kick-Start theme.
Banking services is concerned with different financial activities provided to various segments: personal banking, offering financial services tailored to individuals, business banking dealing with small businesses and investment banking for large corporations. Examples where space data can be instrumental in the delivery of the applications/services include:
- to provide reliable insights and forecasts related to loan provision to individuals and businesses in real estate/agricultural/energy sectors and others;
- by integrating AI in the decision-making processes to monitor the assets of customers;
- by providing access to banking to individuals in remote areas and developing countries;
- by enabling currency transfers, record transactions, trading of goods and services by integrating blockchain technologies.
Investments services are concerned with different financial activities such as buying and selling of securities supported by organizations such as hedge funds, innovation funds, and investment partnerships. Examples where space data can be instrumental include:
- by supporting the investors decisions on specific assets by automated platforms;
- by helping investors in looking for investment opportunities worldwide;
- by advising investors and financial institutions on current ESG investments;
- by locating farmers in remote areas and assessing the business’ performance remotely.
Insurance services include protection against property loss or damage (e.g. flood, fire), underwriting tasks, for assessing the risk of insuring a customer or loan risks, and re-insuring tasks, selling insurance to the insurers themselves to help protect them from catastrophic losses. Examples where space data can be instrumental in the delivery of the applications/services include:
- risks estimation, automated claims settlements, also through blockchain technology;
- automated risk modelling to assess or re-insure the insurance policies;
- for the verification of insurance claims and risk profile mitigation.
In all types of financial services, space data could have a key role in supporting the development of tools & methods aiming at preventing & forecasting cyber-attacks, mitigate the risks and enhance cyber resilience.
VALUE OF SPACE
The role of space technologies in the aforementioned domain could include (but are not limited to) the following:
Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)
- GNSS are instrumental in the development of applications requiring the certified geo-referencing and/or timestamping of transactions metadata. Possible examples are geo- and time- tagged photographs used for insurance claims processing on damaged buildings or cars and timestamping of land titles transfer of ownership.
Satellite Earth Observation
- Earth Observation will provide diverse geospatial, environmental, weather, mapping information to diverse applications. They will help to reinforce trust between the involved stakeholders (as providing evidence) as well as to validate conditions of execution of smart contracts. In the insurance sector, EO imagery could be used for instance to assess the damage extent of flooding and fire events, and then automatically trigger claims processing.
- SatCom provides a means to communicate with users located in remote locations where there is no terrestrial network and enhancing network robustness and resilience. SatCom provides broadband internet, voice over IP, real-time video and reliable communications to remote regions.
5G networks including terrestrial and satellite components will have a key role for delivering the high amount of data required by the applications with the required low latency, eventually also in real time (support to operations).
WHAT WE LOOK FOR
Kick-Start activities explore the business opportunity and the technical viability of new applications and services that exploit one or more space assets (e.g. Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, Earth Observation, Human Space Flight Technology). This call for Kick-Start activities aims to support the development of innovative space-based applications which could foster the implementation of these advanced technologies in different sectors.
HOW TO APPLY
- Register by completing the online questionnaire on ESA-STAR Registration (this provides for the minimum ‘light registration’)
- Download the official tender documentation (Invitation to Tender) and create a ‘Bidder Restricted Area’ via ESA-STAR
- Write your proposal and obtain a Letter of Support from your National Delegation, if needed (see Authorisation of Funding section below).
- Submit your proposal via ESA-STAR Tendering by the deadline.
AUTHORISATION OF FUNDING
ESA Space Solutions can provide funding to perform Kick-Start activities to any company (economic operator) residing in the following Member States: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden.
Please note that, currently, Austria, Greece, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are not supporting Kick-Start activities.
Applicants must inform the National Delegation of the country they are residing in to obtain a letter of authorisation allowing the funding of the proposed activity. Contact details of each national delegate can be found here.
Kick-Start activities are funded at:
- 80% by the European Space Agency for a maximum of €64K per contract for SMEs*
- 75% by the European Space Agency for a maximum of €60K per contract for non-SMEs
- For sub-theme 3: a maximum of 75% is offered regardless of SME status.
*SMEs, or ‘Small and Medium enterprises’, are defined here: EU recommendation 2003/361.
• 11:00 CEST, 07 July 2021