Securit-E business

OECD Observer

David Rooney

Trust is key to the growth of e-commerce, but as with most areas of business, trust comes with time. People in OECD countries are slowly getting used to the concept of doing business electronically, whether it be to shop on the Internet or to take care of their own banking. Even in France, where buying airline tickets and making theatre reservations online has been fairly widespread for several years, thanks to the relatively secure, but technically limited Minitel, the use of the Internet for e-business has finally begun to pick up. One important reason for this change is the growth of secure servers.

Between August 1998 and August 1999 the total number of secure servers in OECD countries grew by 109%. If ever there was an illustration needed of what is meant by the digital divide, the distribution of secure servers provides it, since the 46,000 secure servers in the OECD area in August 1999 represented 95% of the global total. More-over, by July 1999 there were more than 52 million Internet hosts in the OECD area, representing 93% of the global total. Between 1997 and 1999 the OECD total grew by 47%.

Most of the world’s secure servers are in the United States: 34,000 in August 1999, which is twice as many as a year earlier. On a per capita basis, the highest use of secure servers for electronic commerce is also the United States, followed by Australia and Canada, which has more secure servers than any country in Europe. Only 15% of the total number of secure servers were in the European Union. As for Japan and Korea, secure servers are growing there too, albeit from a relatively small base. The number of secure servers grew by 129% in Japan and by 188% in Korea over the twelve months to August 1999.

An additional point is that a huge majority of the world’s websites (86%) appear to have a US origin. However, Finland was the first country in the OECD area to pass 100 hosts per 1,000 inhabitants in 1998. By July 1999 Finland had 123 hosts per 1,000 inhabitants, with the United States a close second with 119 per 1,000. The next closest countries were Iceland, Sweden, Canada and Norway. Such is the strength of growth in electronic commerce in the United States that Finland’s traditional lead in Internet hosts per capita is likely to be overtaken soon.

©OECD Observer No 219, December 1999

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q3 2017 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% Dec 2017 annual
Trade: +4.3% exp, +4.3% imp, Q3 2017
Unemployment: 5.5% Dec 2017
Last update: 12 Feb 2018


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Ambassador Aleksander Surdej, Permanent Representative of Poland to the OECD, was a guest on France 24’s English-language show “The Debate”, where he discussed French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Rousseau
  • Do you trust your government? The OECD’s How's life 2017 report finds that only 38% of people in OECD countries trust their government. How can we improve our old "Social contract?" Read more.
  • Papers show “past coming back to haunt us”: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria tells Sky News that the so-called "Paradise Papers" show a past coming back to haunt us, but one which is now being dismantled. Please watch the video.
  • When someone asks me to describe an ideal girl, in my head, she is a person who is physically and mentally independent, brave to speak her mind, treated with respect just like she treats others, and inspiring to herself and others. But I know that the reality is still so much different. By Alda, 18, on International Day of the Girl. Read more.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Read some of the insightful remarks made at OECD Forum 2017, held on 6-7 June. OECD Forum kick-started events with a focus on inclusive growth, digitalisation, and trust, under the overall theme of Bridging Divides.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2018