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Government E-Payments Adoption Improves Globally According to Visa-sponsored Economist Intelligence Unit Study

SAN FRANCISCO, Apr 24, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) --The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) today released the results of the 2011 Government E-Payments Adoption Ranking (GEAR) study, commissioned by Visa Inc. (NYSE:V). The GEAR study measures the extent to which governments in 62 countries provide e-payment services and the underlying factors that affect government e-payments adoption. It builds on an initial study conducted in 2007 with new findings that highlight the diversity of government e-payment systems already in place, as well as the abundant opportunities available to governments for improving e-payment services.

"Digital currency delivers essential benefits for governments, enabling them to increase efficiencies, promote financial inclusion and drive economic growth," said Joseph W. Saunders, chief executive officer for Visa Inc. "Today, Visa has more than 5,000 government programs in 47 countries. Results from this study highlight how governments use e-payments today - and how we can partner with clients to deliver products and services that address challenges governments may face."

The EIU defines e-payments in the study as the exchange or transfer of funds over an electronic platform. They can be made by various means such as payment card, direct deposit, direct debit, electronic funds transfer, and wire transfer. Some key trends and highlights from the study include:

  • Income tax, VAT/sales tax payments, social security contributions and automotive tolls and fines are the most common types of e-payments offered by governments.
  • Governments have made great strides in recent years in promoting electronic payments. For example, some countries offer direct incentives, such as lower VAT rates when a card is used.
  • Seventy-six percent of the countries in the study have online procurement systems with varying capabilities to help governments streamline purchasing processes with suppliers and businesses.

The provision of some e-payment services has increased since the 2007 study was conducted. Nevertheless, there are still gains to be made, particularly for obtaining/paying for an ID card, requesting unemployment, workers' compensation and welfare benefits, and disbursement of loans to businesses.

Infrastructure plays a significant role in e-payment adoption

Since the 2007 study, there has been a marked improvement in technological infrastructure such as mobile and broadband. More than half the countries in the 2011 GEAR study have developed 3G and other mobile phone technologies, including 4G. The number of mobile phone subscriptions has soared since 2007, and the diffusion of broadband has grown swiftly. Government e-payments adoption stands to benefit from this, given that connectivity - through a variety of devices - is the primary enabler of such payments. Recognizing that investment in technological infrastructure can support economic growth, many developing countries are also investing in Internet infrastructure, including installing technologies that allow individuals to access the Internet through mobile devices.

Instilling trust in e-payments needs to be a top priority for governments

For years, trust has been a key barrier to citizen adoption of government e-payments. This challenge is slowly being overcome by the roll-out of new and improved e-payment security systems and government enforcement mechanisms. More than one-third of the 62 countries in the 2011 GEAR study received the highest possible score for their efforts to promote e-payment security.

The future of government e-payment adoption will continue to evolve

The GEAR study also looks to the future, noting that as governments work toward adopting and improving e-payment services, their strategies will almost undoubtedly reflect each country's unique infrastructure and social, economic and policy context. No single approach to government e-payments adoption is universal. The study indicates several themes will play a role in e-payment adoption, including:

  • Financial inclusion, particularly in the developing world, is likely to get a boost from the roll out of mobile banking services. Countries in Africa and Latin America are expected to see particularly strong gains in this area.
  • Mobile payments will likely see a huge uptake in the coming years. With more than 5 billion mobile phone users worldwide, mobile payments are likely to boom.
  • Automating standard services such as tax payments/refunds and social security contributions will likely be prioritized over other e-payment services.
  • E-payment security will remain an important issue to address and developing proven security measures will be necessary for the uptake of e-payments to flourish.
  • Public/private-sector collaboration on e-payment initiatives is likely to continue as governments try to do more with fewer resources.

According to Lucy Hurst, Associate Director of Custom Research, Economist Intelligence Unit: "Two key trends the study showed us are that momentum has continued in the development of e-payments despite all the potentially derailing factors that could have constrained it, like the economic downturn and fiscal austerity measures. Secondly, the overall trend since 2007 is for governments to continue to make commitments to the development of e-payment platforms. There is increased ease and efficiency in the way citizens and businesses conduct transactions with their governments."

For each of the 62 countries, EIU conducted online research for 37 indicators across seven categories: Citizen-to-Government; Government-to-Citizen; Business-to-Government; Government-to-Business; Infrastructure; Social and Economic Context; and Policy Context. Countries included in the study represent approximately 81 percent of the total world population and an estimated 94 percent of total world GDP, and vary in terms of economic development and political systems.

For governments wanting to get more out of digital currency, Visa Government Solutions offers innovative payment solutions in three key areas: disbursing payments to citizens, making payments to businesses and receiving payments from citizens and businesses. To learn more, visit www.visagovernmentsolutions.com. For more information about the study, visit www.visa.com/gear.

About Visa Inc.

Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions, and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world's most advanced processing networks--VisaNet--that is capable of handling more than 20,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank, and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: Pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.

About EIU

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist. Through a global network of more than 900 analysts and contributors, the EIU continuously assesses and forecasts political, economic and business conditions in more than 200 countries. As the world's leading provider of country intelligence, the EIU helps executives, governments and institutions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis.

Study methodology

In the 2011 GEAR study, EIU analysts and contributors conducted online research to test 17 common transactions, including tax payments and refunds, automotive costs, social welfare benefits, business registration, and government procurement. They also gathered information on these countries' payment infrastructure and their social, economic and policy context.

SOURCE: Visa Inc.

Visa Inc.
Kate Flannery, +1 415-932-2564
globalmedia@visa.com