Wednesday 12 July 2017 2:38 pm

The UK's digital economy is among the best in the world, according to this new study

The UK has one of the best digital economies of any country in the world, ahead of the US and the rest of Western Europe, and is considered part of a small number of "digital elite" that are "both highly digitally evolved and advancing quickly."

That's according to a major new study of 60 countries and how they much they embrace digital, from Mastercard and The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

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The UK was grouped among seven other stand out countries, along with Singapore, New Zealand, Estonia, Japan and Israel, as well as Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

A second group, stall outs, while identified as having a high level of digital evolution, "risk falling behind due to a slower pace of progress and would benefit from a heightened focus on innovation." They include the US, Germany and the Nordics.

"Watch out" countries such as South Africa and Greece were identified as having some way to go to develop infrastructure and innovation.

And a fourth group that includes China, Russia and India were classed as "break out" – evolving so quickly from a low base that they have the potential to become strong digital economies. "They are generally making gains in the innovation space or in consumer demand. However, many of them are held back by weak infrastructure and institutions," said the report.

The Digital Evolution Index looks at momentum in the economy when it comes to digital – the number of people coming online, the value found there and how trustworthy the digital environment is.

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Of the UK, Estonia, Israel and New Zealand, it concluded "countries are powering ahead of their rivals thanks to a complex formula of infrastructure, incubating startups, a cultural commitment to innovation, and government support."

"This last ingredient – government – is a crucial element. While some may believe true innovation happens when government 'gets out of the way,' the stand out countries of the DEI suggest there is, in fact, a significant role for the state to play in facilitating and fostering the digital economy."