This year has been lived online, with the pandemic forcing people around the world to socialise, work, consult and shop from a screen. Technology adoption has leapt forward at lighting speed, but what will that mean for the world once the threat of the pandemic recedes? 

eToro surveyed more than 18,000 European adults across nine countries to understand current attitudes to digital innovation and adoption of technology, as well as consumer appetite and the potential for further digital innovation within these countries. 

Countries featured in the report: 

Denmark

France

Germany

Italy

Netherlands

Poland 

Romania

Spain 

United Kingdom

Digital engagement index

The index sits at the centre of this report, and measures how each country ranks based on their current level of digital adoption and their potential for digital growth . It provides a snapshot of where each country is now, and an indication of what their digital future may hold. 

Summary of key findings

  • Of all the countries surveyed, Denmark ranks highest for digital penetration indicators, with the largest share of online retail sales and the most widespread use of digital platforms for banking and interacting with public authorities.
  • Spain ranks first in digital readiness, with a significant portion of respondents feeling comfortable with transitioning to digital solutions, including online property viewings and streaming services.
  • While the use of digital platforms is currently lower in Poland than in almost all the countries analysed, support for increased digitalisation is higher here than anywhere else. By contrast, Germany has the lowest level of support for increased digitalisation of all nine countries analysed.
  • The UK tops the European rankings when it comes to current levels of digital penetration, but might not be able to hold onto that lead for much longer with a low score in the digital growth index hinting that many may be resistant to new technologies.
  • Despite the relatively low level of digital penetration, Poland values digital technologies more highly than any of the other nine countries. The vast majority (85%) of those surveyed said that they would support increased digitalisation in the energy and utilities sector, while 83% stated that they would be in favour of this in the finance sector. 

What is the future of tech adoption? 

It’s all about people. The successful adoption of new technology is dependent on consumers. The report reveals that two in five Europeans feel that digital technologies are spreading too quickly, while nearly the same amount (39%) say that the pace of change is overwhelming. This is perhaps little surprise given the acceleration in digital transformation that we have seen as a result of COVID-19, and highlights how important the next couple of years will be. It is vital that this minority are given the support they need to engage with new technologies, otherwise we risk creating a digital divide. 

With most Europeans (51%) agreeing that the increased use of technology this year has made their life easier, a digital divide now poses more risks to those left behind than it ever has previously. 

For those that can comfortably utilise technology, however, this year has meant that almost half (46%) learned new skills. And a third (33%) of Europeans said it has made them want to try new technologies. The benefits have been particularly pronounced among those over 55.

Putting the user first

There are clear challenges ahead, including the very real threat of cybercrime, but importantly a lot to be positive about. The report demonstrates that a large number of digital technologies have already become deeply embedded in the everyday lives of people throughout Europe. It also shows that most Europeans would embrace increased digitalisation in many parts of the economy. There exists a solid base of public support for increases in digitalisation in the energy and utility (71%), finance (65%), and entertainment (64%) sectors.

Our future is a digital world, yet we must never forget that people are at the centre of this – they are the participants and hopefully the beneficiaries. Digital innovation only succeeds if it prioritises the experience of its users. As an online investment platform, eToro has continued to grow by anticipating, listening to and meeting the evolving needs of our clients. You can’t do that without human insight, and it’s the reason why our social features are so important. We encourage positive interactions to make investing more transparent, more accessible and ultimately more enjoyable. 

Disclaimer: This communication is for information and education purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice, a personal recommendation, or an offer of, or solicitation to buy or sell, any financial instruments. This material has been prepared without taking into account any particular recipient’s investment objectives or financial situation, and has not been prepared in accordance with the legal and regulatory requirements to promote independent research. Any references to past or future performance of a financial instrument, index or a packaged investment product are not, and should not be taken as, a reliable indicator of future results. eToro makes no representation and assumes no liability as to the accuracy or completeness of the content of this publication