For over two decades operational rainfall estimations from geostationary satellites have represented an ambitious aspiration of scientists and an identified need of operational meteorologists. A wide variety of infrared and combined visible and infrared methods have been proposed for the identification of suitable relationships between satellite-observed cloud top radiative features and rainfall at the ground. Microwave-based retrievals, however, correlate rainfall and internal cloud microphysical features more successfully. The most significant limitation, however, is the indirect character of the retrieval that correlates microphysical and dynamical cloud characteristics with rain amounts at ground level. METEOSAT Second Generation signals a new era for geostationary satellites with its new 12 channel imager SEVIRI and 15 minute full-disk image repeat cycle. SEVIRI is expected to contribute significantly to a better characterisation of clouds and atmospheric stability by means of improved infrared
calibration, radiometric performances, imaging frequency and multispectral image analysis. The significant increase of multispectral cloud observations is expected to provide new data for the improvement of rainfall estimations from geostationary orbit. The anticipated progress from enhanced imaging frequency and multispectral data for the definition of new techniques is discussed. Considerations for operational applications, chiefly for nowcasting, are also provided as they are the main goal of the satellite. Future developments and synergies with other geostationary and polar orbiting instruments, passive and active, are finally considered as the ultimate strategy for more accurate instantaneous rainfall estimations at all latitudes.