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What is the digital economy?

What is the digital economy?

The digital economy refers to all business activities that offer value to customers and society through digital inputs ranging from digital technologies and infrastructure to digital goods, services, and data. It features businesses that produce key products or services in digital and information technology sectors, and companies that develop market offers to meet demands for digital goods and services in other sectors. Visit the  OECD, UNCTAD, ITC, and Deloitte websites for more.   

Types of digital transactions

In digital economies, businesses change their ways of connecting to customers, institutions, and other businesses by developing new business models. Some examples of these new transactions and business models can be found at the OECD and ITC websites.

  • E-commerce: Covers goods and services sold and bought online, including transactions done through e-commerce marketplaces. Businesses engage in e-commerce activities when they sell online to other businesses or individuals, or by acting as intermediaries for individuals seeking to rent or buy assets. Visit the OECD and the Future of Commerce for more.
  • App stores: Are online shops developed by software or telecommunications companies. They feature in smartphone and tablets and provide access to a range of digital services and a new market for software developers of all sizes. Visit Techopedia and Computer Hope for more.
  • Digital Banking and e-payments: electronic finance can provide individuals with easier, cheaper, and safer access to financial services. Additionally, e-payments have made it possible to transact online, making it easier to transfer money across accounts for a good bought or service rendered. Visit Forbes for further detail.
  • E-documents/e-signatures: electronic documents can speed a transaction. For example, electronic trade documents, such as for customs and trade transactions, reduce submission errors and costs of paperwork and procedures. Read more at Trade Finance Global.

 How does the digital economy operate?

The digital economy operates around platforms which link producers, consumers and service providers. Businesses interact in platforms by exchanging information, goods or services, and payments. These platforms have applications for all businesses, opening the doors to new industries, sectors, and partners. Visit the ITC for more.

What are the risks associated with the digital economy?

Although the digital economy offers new business opportunities, companies need to consider potential risks that may arise. Phishing compromised passwords and malicious updates are examples of these risks. Businesses of every size may be targets for cybercrime and therefore cybersecurity must be considered no matter the company. Visit the ICC and Cyber Readiness Institute for further detail

Useful resources

Participating in the digital economy offers a variety of business opportunities. There are resources and courses that may help you to navigate through the journey of exploring markets, partners and customers in the digital space.

  1. ecomConnect: Is an e-commerce online community that connects entrepreneurs, business owners and individuals seeking digital business opportunities. Visit
  2. Course on introduction to e-commerce: Introduces the e-commerce landscape and offers an e-commerce readiness check for participants. Visit the ITC’s SME Trade Academy.
  3. Course on e-commerce for your B2B business: Introduces challenges and opportunities in e-commerce. Visit the ITC’s SME Trade Academy.
  4. Course on virtual marketplaces for e-commerce initiatives: Outlines e-commerce websites where businesses can begin selling their products or services. Visit the ITC’s SME Trade Academy.