The Digital Economy: What It Is and Why It Matters Now More Than Ever


Digital Equity is More Urgent Now Than Ever

Due to COVID-19, the internet has become a critical resource for consumers and businesses alike, making digital equity more urgent now than ever. Digital technology has helped people work remotely, educate children and shift the exchange of goods and services to a virtual space.

However, access to internet as a public resource is not even across the U.S., with spotty internet access often dividing along lines of income, race and geography. According to a study by Erika Poethig, Chief Innovation Officer at the Urban Institute, 30% of households across 221 cities lacked broadband; and the Black community is least connected no matter where they live. This is the result of a “long legacy of racial and economic segregation,” said Poethig.

Building a more equitable economy, particularly in the pandemic and post-pandemic world, will require increasing internet access across communities and empowering BIPOC consumers and businesses to become a greater part of the digital economy.

What Does the Digital Economy Look Like?

“Digital economy” can feel like a buzzword that is tossed around with an unclear meaning. Digital economy means that our overall economy is increasingly based on digital technologies, such as selling and buying goods and services over the internet or running business virtually rather than completely in person. This can look like taking restaurant orders online, selling hand-crafted goods on a website, or even using the internet to communicate with employees rather than working in person.

Critical components of shifting to a digital economy as a business includes accepting payment cards, which can enable online sales. This can improve the safety of payment acceptance at your business, and make managing finances easier with mobile and online tools.

Why Should My Business Consider Moving to a Digital Economy?

As the economy is becoming more and more digital, not incorporating aspects of the digital economy can make it tough to keep up with competitors that are digitally transforming their businesses. If your restaurant takes cash only or doesn’t accept online orders, you might miss out on business from consumers looking for safer or more convenient payment methods. Especially as 74% of consumers are planning on using contactless payment methods after the pandemic, meeting consumer preferences can help bring a business long-term success.

And, importantly, as we consider digital equity and helping consumers and businesses alike to have access to and use of the internet, shifting to a digital economy can help bolster the vision of digital equity in your community.

To learn more about the digital economy and how it could impact racial and geographic disparities in a  post-pandemic world, check out this article form Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth.

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