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Digital Landscape in Eastern Europe

July 2021

Eastern Europe’s digital development continues as consumers increasingly embrace digital services. Consumers previously suspicious of the safety of online payments began to trust and value the convenience of fast and secure online payment methods as they came into greater contact with them in 2020 due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). This shift is not expected to be a temporary trend during the pandemicbut will help accelerate digitalisation, particularly with the arrival of 5G on the horizon.

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Key Findings

Eastern Europe’s digital evolution continues

Public and private investment as well as technological innovation continue to drive Eastern Europe’s digital transition. With internet quality, penetration and coverage on the rise, consumers in the region are increasingly embracing digital services, with mobile a key factor in this.

Smartphones a vital everyday device for many

The widespread use of smartphones is underpinning connected consumers’ desire for instant access to services anywhere and at any time, making it possible to engage in a range of activities either at rest or when on the go. Consumer behaviour is shifting, increasingly preferring mobiles to access the internet, with this attitude also being shaped by the enhanced convenience and speed that smartphones are able to offer.

Payment in the blink of an eye

Polish fintech PayEye has launched a digital payment system that allows consumers to pay by scanning their iris. This world-leading technology is supported by proprietary POS terminals that use algorithms to compare the scanned iris with the logged biometric pattern – the so-called PayEye code.

Retail the big “winner” in the pandemic

With consumers locked down or quarantining at home, but also reluctant to venture outside at the height of the COVID-19 waves, e-commerce was a big “winner” during the pandemic. Digital payments, both remote and proximity, increased as consumers and retailers tried to avoid handling cash for hygiene and safety reasons.

5G to drive further development of the digital landscape

The rollout of 5G is getting underway in Eastern Europe. Legislators and network operators across the region have ambitious plans for this advanced technology, which will enable the region to unlock further digital opportunities, driving continued growth in the digital landscape. However, with many mobile owners having devices that do not yet support 5G, upgrades will be needed to exploit any improved mobile connectivity.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Regional Overview

Internet use continues to climb in Eastern Europe
Mobile dominates subscriber numbers in Eastern Europe
Poland doing much better in mobile than home connectivity
Massive leap in Polish mobile internet penetration rate
Mobile gains further ground as the preferred mode for internet access
Strong growth in high-speed connections across the region
Polish operators withdrawing 3G service to free up space for 5G

Country Snapshots

Czech Republic: Market Context (1)
Czech Republic: Market Context (2)
Hungary: Market Context (1)
Hungary: Market Context (2)
Poland: Market Context (1)
Poland: Market Context (2)
Romania: Market Context (1)
Romania: Market Context (2)
Russia: Market Context (1)
Russia: Market Context (2)
Ukraine: Market Context (1)
Ukraine: Market Context (2)

Forecast Projections

Internet penetration will continue to grow in Western Europe
Mobile internet penetration and subscribers to continue growing
Mobile penetration will continue to leave fixed broadband behind
EU countries can tap into its Digital Europe programme
Broadband infrastructure will continue to develop in 2020-2025
Russia and Ukraine to continue improving LTE coverage
Key takeaways
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