Citizens prefer banks to government. It’s hard to believe this in light of the damaged reputation of today’s financial services sector. Nonetheless, when it comes to e-services (online banking/eGovernment), banks are out-achieving government. That’s a key finding in the recently published European Commission Benchmark Measurement on EU eGovernment Services 2012.

Now in its tenth year, this authoritative document produced by Capgemini is based on surveys with 28,000 citizens across Europe. It also assesses three specific high-impact events in the lives of citizens: business start-up and early operations; losing and finding a job; and studying.
Why is this important? Because the EC believes that better use of ICT (including eGovernment) will help to create the strong European internal market needed to strengthen the region’s competitiveness. Thus finding out which eGovernment services citizens use, and assessing the barriers to using them, has a vital role to play in Europe’s evolving digital capability. Similarly, organising public services around user’s needs, through seamless life events that cross government domains and tiers, will contribute to the effectiveness and efficiency of public service provision.

Interestingly, as the report points out, despite usage of eGovernment services in Europe standing at 46% of internet users, there are still many eGovernment sceptics. The ‘non-believers’ (those people who use traditional channels for all their government contacts) account for 38% of those citizens surveyed. Typical barriers are a lack of awareness about the existence of eGovernment services and an unwillingness to trust, or inability to use them.

Even those citizens who do use eGovernment services are not always satisfied. Let’s look again at my opening statement. This is based on user satisfaction analysis, which reveals that citizens are significantly more satisfied by the services provided by banks than for regular public services.

And what of today’s digital natives – the younger generation? The report notes that 95 per cent of students surveyed use social media. It adds that governments should use the channels students use and provide them with the opportunity to express their opinion and network online. They are, after all, the taxpayers of tomorrow.
To discover why it’s not always the ‘big’ EU countries that are ahead of the eGov game and gain further insight into Europe’s digital agenda, download the 2012 report here.