No wonder then that there is much anxiety among Brexit-watchers about the UK making a clean break and rejecting the ‘four freedoms’ that EU members enjoy − free movement of people, goods, capital and services. I would argue that there is a fifth freedom that negotiators ought to keep in their sights, one that may hold the key to re-balancing the terms of Brexit. This freedom has to do with the free movement of data.
Data matters because it is the fuel − and exhaust − of a critical part of the overall economy: the digital economy.
When one considers the digital economies of the UK and that of the EU, the latter would be losing a genuine star if barriers to UK-EU data flows were to be erected.
by Kim Wilson, CEME Senior Fellow & Lecturer, The Fletcher School
Predictably, the long tentacles of financial inclusion have coiled themselves around the most vulnerable targets of humanitarian aid: low income refugees, migrants and displaced populations (hereon: “refugees”).
Just as predictably, the financial inclusion agenda is driven by suppliers (aid providers, donors, financial intermediaries and governments). Few refugees are demanding to be included in a digital/formal ecosystem. That does not mean they don’t appreciate the shelter, food and cash that humanitarian agencies have mustered on their behalf. They do. They also appreciate the efforts of those same agencies to make cash assistance easier. E-cash that can be transformed into physical cash at convenient times and places is an example. Use of debit cards at ATMs to withdraw cash from digital accounts can cut valuable time otherwise spent waiting in long cash distribution queues. Very appreciated, indeed.
After the drama of demonetisation, the 2017-18 Union budget has been a decidedly sober affair. The budget speech, one of the longest in history, was short on game-changing ideas. The finance minister didn’t seem terribly perturbed by the gathering storm clouds worldwide: Populist surges in the US and Europe; a strengthening dollar and oil price uncertainties; prospects of trade or religious wars, maybe both. That the IMF has shaved off a full percentage point of India’s anticipated growth rate as the economic penalty for the November cash carnage did not seem to provoke much worry either.
Brexit, as the British referendum to exit the EU is widely called, has caused turmoil in politics and stocks and head-shaking among the UK’s partners. All of this, of course, comes on the heels of many overlapping crises afflicting Europe.
In addition to the ones regularly in the news, I have argued earlier in HBR that there is a fundamental crisis unfolding over the longer term: the continent is suffering from a “digital recession” – a loss of momentum in their evolution toward a digital economy. Of the 50 countries we studied using a Digital Evolution Index we created, 15 European countries have been losing digital momentum since 2008 and EU countries occupy the bottom 9 spots in our ranking of digital momentum .
With the UK at 34 out of 50, it is worth asking: what is the impact of the Brexit referendum on this already dismal state of affairs?
How Benchmarking Can Help Countries Become More Digital
When it comes to understanding the pace of global digital evolution, the digital growth of developed countries usually has little to tell us about the digital future of developing ones. This has big implications for businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators seeking growth beyond their home markets: there just isn’t a one-size-fits-all app or approach to building scale in the global digital economy. But if a country wants to become attractive to new investors, what it can do is learn from its better-connected peers and play some “digital catch-up.”
Dean Chakravorti will share insights on where the digital economy is moving fastest, which countries are poised for rapid changes, and where the digital process is slow or stalled, all as part of this live webinar.
Where is the digital economy moving fastest? And, when we know that, what it all mean for what the future holds?
These questions and the many more answered and posed by the pioneering research of our Planet eBiz initiativehave captured the attention of thousands of Harvard Business Review readers (including Bill Gates). As the calendar flipped to 2016, HBR looked back on the year that was and found the February piece from Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti, Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi, and Rusty Tunnard among their Top 20 “Most Read Articles from 2015.”