Staying connected online is vital for expats – so where are the countries with the best digital services?
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Expat group InterNations has polled thousands of expats around the world to find the best – and worst – connected countries.
The results are published in the report Digital Life Abroad.
Expats were asked to rate the places where they lived across five categories:
- Access to online government services
- Getting a local mobile phone number
- Home internet connection speeds
- Making digital payments
- Unrestricted access to online services
Estonia topped the ratings for access to government service and unrestricted internet access, with 94% of expats in the country praising their online experience, compared to a global average of 55%.
“Estonia is amazing. There’s not a country in the world that has embraced the future and the digital revolution so completely,” said one US expat.
Myanmar gained mixed ratings.
Although coming top for ease of access for mobile phone SIM cards, the country also came bottom out of 68 nations for broadband speeds and making digital payments and second bottom for putting government services online.
Other high scorers were Finland, grabbing third place for broadband speeds and top for making digital payments; New Zealand, for gaining second place for getting a SIM card and third for putting government services online and Israel for taking two third places – for getting a SIM card and unrestricted internet access.
Egypt rated worst for online government services and third from bottom for home broadband speeds.
Fiscally antiquated Germany
“In the case of the bottom countries, the language barrier may explain some of these difficulties. Legal requirements can also differ: in low-ranking Germany (61st out of 68 for getting a SIM card), for example, over one in 10 expats (11%) struggle getting a local number. Since 2017, buying a new SIM card there requires providing identification; even if it is a prepaid one,” said the report.
Germany was also slammed by expats for reliance on cash rather than digital payments.
“In contrast to the low global average of 13%, in Germany, a far higher share (35%) find it hard to pay without cash. A British expat even explicitly names the “dependence on cash payments” as a negative to life in Germany. The country lags far behind the forward-thinking Nordics: according to the Institute of Economic Research, for every cash machine in Germany there are 13 cashless payment terminals, while in Sweden, this number rises to 91,” said the report.
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