The UK’s ability to handle remote working and social distancing has been compared with other countries – and thrown up mixed results.

Research from Expert Market investigated which countries have the most advanced digital capabilities across nine data points in relation to internet access, digital infrastructure, digital communication, public services and digital payments.

The UK came seventh, ranking average on most values. However it scored relatively low on mobile and internet speed, offering speeds only a third of those seen in Singapore.

Britain’s percentage of internet users, e-government development and computer penetration rated highly.

South Korea topped the table, scoring well across most data points and highest for mobile download speeds and social media usage. Almost 9 in 10 South Koreans own a smartphone, with 95% of them regularly accessing the internet.

The Nordic countries scored well with Denmark, Sweden, and Norway all sitting in the top five. They scored particularly high on internet access and e-government development.

East Asian nations generally scored well, with Singapore, Japan and China also making the top 15. China soared above the other countries for mobile wallet payments, which account for a staggering 36% of China’s transactions – seven times that of the UK.

The USA, in eighth – one spot behind the UK – scored highest for intelligent connectivity but was let down by its internet usage, which is 22% lower than top-ranking Denmark.

Lucy Crossfield, a researcher from Expert Market, said: “The COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the world’s adoption of digital solutions.

"On a small scale you have local businesses pivoting to contact-free deliveries through newly created apps, and at a national level you have governments looking to limit interaction on transport and finding ways to transmit information to people on a national scale.

“It’s interesting to see top spot holder South Korea using their existing digital infrastructure to respond to the crisis - setting up a website to inform their citizens and help slow the spread of the virus.

"They’ve had one of the most successful responses to the pandemic so this may well encourage those further down the list like Japan, China, and Germany to increase investment in their digital infrastructure.”

Top 15 (with index score)

  1. South Korea - 6.7
  2. Denmark - 6.5
  3. Sweden - 6.2
  4. Singapore - 6.1
  5. Norway - 5.7
  6. Netherlands - 5.6
  7. UK - 5.4
  8. USA - 5.3
  9. Switzerland - 5.1
  10. Canada - 5.0
  11. Australia - 4.7
  12. New Zealand - 4.3
  13. Japan - 4.0
  14. China - 3.4
  15. Germany - 3.2