San Jose Mercury News writes about Estonia’s remarkable technology transformation. In 1991, most people didn’t even have a phone. The story is very different today.
the country ranked No. 8 out of 82 countries in putting the Net to practical use in a recent World Economic Forum report. The country ranked No. 2 in Internet banking and third in e-government.
Banking is actually booming in this former Soviet republic — via Internet. The number of Estonians who bank online soared from zero in 1997 to 700,000 this year. That’s half the country’s 1.4 million people.
Many Estonians who now rely on wireless phones never had a landline phone. And most who now use the Internet to pay bills have never used a Western-style checkbook.
About 70 percent of Estonians own mobile phones — about the same as the European Union average. Some 40 percent of Estonians have a home computer with online access. In business, online access is over 80 percent.
Estonia’s second-largest bank recently began a service that lets people use mobile phones as debit cards at restaurants, hotels and gas stations.