Sunday, 4 October 2020

3 in 5 Croatians Use Digital Services More than Before Pandemic

ZAGREB, October 4, 2020 - During the coronavirus pandemic, 62% of citizens are using digital services more often than before, mostly for online banking and shopping, shows a survey on citizens' digital habits done by the Hendal market research agency in August.

The survey was conducted online, covering 500 respondents, 72% of whom used online banking, 63% shopped online, 34% used online public administration services and 17% used insurance services.

Ninety-six percent of respondents used digital banking solutions to check their accounts and 88% for transactions. Seventy-nine percent said the digital development of banks in Croatia was as good as elsewhere in the EU, while 17% said it lagged behind European countries.

Forty-six percent of respondents cited fear for data safety as the main obstacle to using digital financial services, while 42% cited possible errors.

As for digital insurance services, respondents said they mostly used them for car insurance. One-third said they combined digital channels with going to a branch office or talking with an agent.

Two-thirds say digital insurance services in Croatia as good as elsewhere in EU

Over 65% of respondents said digital insurance services in Croatia were as good as elsewhere in the EU, while 33% said they lagged behind. 

Sixty-five percent of respondents said advanced digital services contributed to their quality of life, 84% said digitalisation in general contributed to society's development, and 94% said they would continue to use digital services more even after the coronavirus crisis.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Croatia First in World to Use Contactless Card Payment Tech for Online Customer Reviews

July 24, 2020 - Croatia first in the world to use contactless card payment technology (NFC) for online customer reviews, a game-changer for business globally

In the modern era, there's no better promotion for your business than online customer reviews. Comments and ratings on platforms like Trip Advisor, Google and Facebook have replaced slow and unreliable word-of-mouth recommendations in the digital age.

But, how to get those reviews? A huge proportion of goodwill from satisfied customers is lost forever the moment they step out of the door. They can forget every detail of your business, their experience or maybe they just don't find the time.

Review Booster Pro, an innovative platform from Dubrovnik, offers the best solution yet. It uses NFC – the same technology used by credit cards for contactless payments – to facilitate on-the-spot online customer reviews in super-fast time. It's a simple solution that could be a game-changer for business globally.

“I'm the CEO and owner of the Mint Media digital agency,” explains Ivan Ivušić who has developed Review Booster Pro.”We work with a lot of clients in the tourism sector. Over the past few years, we got a lot of requests from clients about how to improve their online reputation. Their main concern was how to improve their ratings and increase their number of reviews of Trip Advisor, Google, Facebook and other platforms, in order to get more visibility and more customers.”

“We tried many different solutions; business cards with QR codes, something you scan with your mobile phone which would take you to a web page where you write reviews. But, the main problem was the speed. Once customers leave a venue, they don't find the time to write reviews or they don't remember the name of your business. So, the conversion rates were low. So, we needed something quick and simple, so customers can leave reviews on the spot. This is what the market needs.”

Their solution was to employ NFC - Near Field Communication, the technology you use to pay contactless with your credit card. All newer mobile phones are fitted with this technology. Businesses signed up to Review Booster Pro have RBP boards, which they present to customers after their experience – for instance, while you're waiting for your restaurant bill. You simply wave you phone over the board, the phone's operating system reads the chip, your web browser opens automatically and takes you to the RBP landing page of the business you're in. You then select which of the platforms you're already signed up to - Trip Advisor, Google, Facebook etc. - and leave your online customer reviews.

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© Review Booster Pro

“The RBP boards are around the size of a large mobile phone – and these can be presented to the customer or even positioned permanently on every table in your bar or restaurant; hotels, dentists, hair and cosmetic salons, retail stores, tourist guides and agencies are also some of our clients,” explains Ivan. Aside from encouraging simple and super fast reviews, businesses using the RBP platform obtain other benefits. On their RBP landing page, where they can place their branded logo and individual text, they can also use banner advertising space to promote existing partners or market different sections of their business. For instance, while a customer is leaving a review of the hotel bar, they will be shown the details of what's on offer in the hotel's spa.

Business owners can measure the clicks on each individual board they have. Therefore, a restaurant owner will be able to see which of his staff is obtaining the most reviews. Previously, such information would have been complete guesswork, unless an individual server is specifically named by a customer in a review.

“All of our current clients were already well aware that this is exactly what they need,” says Ivan. “It took about 10 minutes to sell each of them this product. In our extensive preliminary testing, businesses that were averaging 3 reviews a day went up to receiving 15 reviews per day. It's really a game-changer.”

Future plans for RBP are extremely exciting and they are already searching for ways to move the technology into different forms – imagine having the RBP chip implanted within a laminated page at the end of your restaurant menu. But, for now, the next step is to be recognised by one of the biggest three review sites.

“Trip Advisor has a separate platform (RCP) which you can partner with, to offer projects that will get them more reviews,” says Ivan. “Our product will be particularly beneficial to them because it not only increases their number of reviews, it also increases user acquisition.”

“We are processing our application to become one of these partners. They have different tiers of partners, so if you are successful and reach the top, Trip Advisor then promotes you as a solution to all the businesses worldwide who hold accounts on their platform. That's our goal. And I have every confidence we will reach it because all other solutions rely on software, many on downloading a separate app. We found no other solution in the world right now that is using NFC technology for this.”

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Young Croats Have The Best Digital Skills In Europe

July 16, 2020 - Young Croats have the best digital skills in Europe

Figures released by the European Union show that young Croats have the best digital skills in Europe. 97% of 16 to 24-year-olds in Croatia have basic or above basic digital skills.

The amazing result by young Croats is notably superior to their closest competitors Estonia, Lithuania and the Netherlands (all three 93%). By contrast, some neighbouring countries in south-east Europe observed the lowest shares; Romania (56%), Bulgaria (58%), Italy (65%), Hungary (68%).

Education in Europe was moved entirely online in recent months in response to the closure of schools. It seems Croatian students were the best-placed to deal with the switch to digital.

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Croatia's 16 to 24-year-olds lead in digital skills across the whole of Europe

To obtain the figures, European authorities assessed young people in four specific areas of internet and software use; information, communication, problem solving and software skills.

Information skills include the ability to identify, locate, retrieve, store, organise and analyse digital information. Communication skills include using emails, social networks, online communication software such as video calls and uploading content online. Problem-solving skills included transferring files between devices and the installation and management of software and apps. Software skills are considered the ability to use and manipulate content such as spreadsheets, photo, video or audio files and the use of word processing software.

Not all of the proficiency displayed by young Croatians can be attributed solely to studious work at their home PCs or laptops; many of the skills young Croatians possess are accessible on and learned from mobile phones. However, education in Croatia does play a significant role in the country's amazing digital literacy.

In addition to the good standard of digital education available in Croatian schools, one contributing asset is the Croatian Makers programme run by Nenad Bakic. It is the largest non-governmental educational programme in the EU, has assisted in the digital education of over 200,000 children in Croatia and has educated over 3,000 teachers in Croatia for free so that they may pass on vital digital skills to future generations. The programme has been so successful it has extended beyond Croatia's borders and now also educates young people and their teachers in countries like Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Digital Croatia: Mixed Results for Digitisation According to DESI Index

Just how far forward has the coronavirus pandemic pushed the dream of a digital Croatia? A mixed bag of results for the country that seemed allergic to the idea of a more digital society as the DESI index looks into the matter.

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 15th of June, 2020, according to the DESI index, the most important measure of the digitalisation of society and the economy in the European Union (EU), Croatia remained in 20th place out of 28 members, as it did last year, and with 47.6 points, it remains below the EU average of 52.6.

The most digitally competitive countries on the list are Finland, Sweden and Denmark, followed by Romania, with Greece and Bulgaria at the very bottom.

Although so far the DESI index has been an important topic of discussion in Croatia, both by the Croatian Government and by its partners, primarily HUP, this year the European Commission (EC) went a step further and linked access to the Fund for Recovery and Resilience, which is the backbone of the European Union's budget for the period between 2021 and 2027, and which comes with a hefty 560 billion euro figure attached to it.

Thierry Breton, the EC's Commissioner for the Internal Market, emphasised that the data they released indicated that the industry was using digital technologies more than ever before.

''We need to ensure that this is the case for both small and medium-sized businesses and that the most advanced digital technologies are widely used in economies,'' explained Breton. The report acknowledges that the country, in its quest to become a digital Croatia, has made above-average progress over the past five years, but that it remains below the EU average.

This year, it especially boasts progress in four categories: online shopping, public services, IT security, and the spread of 4G technology. In Croatia, 57 percent of citizens now shop online. The European Commission stated that in the past year, the number of online customers in the country has grown by 10 percentage points, and that this is the biggest jump in that indicator in the entire European Union.

The coronavirus pandemic certainly helped the digital Croatia mission along, with numerous administrative bodies which one required physical presence quickly (and surprisingly) finding online solutions.

On that note, the European Commission also praised Croatia for increasing the number of public services that can be performed entirely online. According to that indicator, it is stated that with a praiseworthy increase of 9.1 points, Croatia has made the greatest progress in the EU. Furthermore, only fifteen percent of Internet users in Croatia reported having had IT security problems in the past year.

According to that, Croatia, along with Lithuania, is the safest member of the EU. Finally, with the spread of 4G technology to 100 percent of the population, Croatia has made the most progress alongside Romania and Cyprus. However, the European Commission also identified some key reasons why the country continues to lag behind the EU's average.

The report stated that Croatia is at the back of the EU in terms of the development of key digital public services, such as e-ID cards, the application of digital certificates, digital access to public registers and the possibility of obtaining official documents via email.

Likewise, the Commission has recognised that Croatia doesn't seem to place a great deal of emphasis on mobile access to public services, despite the fact that we live in a time when most of its citizens have smartphones. It also recognised that Croatia is at the very bottom of the EU when it comes to the availability of public services for the economy.

According to that, Croatia is third from the bottom of the EU. Croatia is also at the bottom of the EU in terms of the share of the population that has never used the Internet, as many as 18 percent of Croatian residents have never done so. It is also one of the three EU countries with the lowest share of users who surf at 100 Mbps, with only 6.2 percent of them doing so, while the EU average stands at a much higher 25.9 percent.

The Commission also criticised the delay in two national broadband projects co-financed by the EU, the construction of an intercity optical network and local optical networks. 

While the dream of a digital Croatia became much more real, with some warped sort of thanks to the pandemic, it seems that for some, the desire for no more queues, tax stamps and endless paperwork just isn't strong enough.

For more on digital Croatia, follow our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

What Changes has Coronavirus Forced in Croatia? From Schooling to Taxes...

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 30th of April, 2020, perhaps the Croatian healthcare system and the long waiting lists will be helped in some way by the coronavirus pandemic, because it seems that this virus has forced reforms we have been waiting for for a very long time. For years, changes have been promised by politicians from across the spectrum, but they were actually brought in by something invisible.

Suddenly, one can work from home, all of a sudden, everyone thinks we have too many counties and that this is pointless, suddenly the self-sufficiency of agriculture is a daily issue for everyone. Suddenly, everything can be done online in Croatia, RTL writes.

The state has been promising reforms for a very long time, and there has always been a lack of a piece of paper here and there, as well as a few stamps, which are longstanding symbols of Croatian bureaucracy. And then came the coronavirus pandemic, infecting the old and the young, and bringing about the reforms we dreamed of with it.

"We have five money-related foreclosure services where a user can open a secured account, submit a payment request, or cancel a payment request. They can submit a query or a complaint, anything for which they'd usually come to the counter,'' said Andrea Kajtaz, of commercial digital solutions at FINA.

There is almost no need for us to hold a ballpoint pen (which is probably also rapidly running out of ink and no longer has a lid) in our hands anymore either, as coronavirus has made digital signatures a reality. Has the pandemic really, finally given us a digital Croatia?

As of 2017, the Ministry of Health has has a system in place that few have actually used, it was so important to former Health Minister Milan Kujunzdic that, well... it is only just being presented this week. As has unofficially been found out, through that system, a patient will receive a username from a doctor and on the zdravlje.net (health.net) site through which they will be able to renew prescriptions for approved medicines themselves! And that's not all, according to the findings, patients will not be required to go to the hospital or to a doctor for a discharge letter, but instead they will be available online. This revolutionary for Croatia in 2020.

Admit it, you're missing those delightful trips to the tax office with your hands full of meaningless papers! Although they have been digitised through the ePorezna system for some time, for many things you have still needed to physically go to the tax office to explain your problem to a completely disinterested employee who is irritated at you for interrupting her Solitaire playing session. That used to be the Croatian reality, at least until the coronavirus epidemic broke out. As many as 20,000 new users have signed up for ePorezna during the quarantine period. Tax deferral requests can also now be submitted online.

''Over 100,000 of these requests have been resolved at this moment in time, with 100,000 applications received. Just over 7,000 of them were rejected, unfortunately, there were double submissions amounting to about 12,000. Based on these requests, the payment of the amount of 1.7 billion kuna has already been delayed,'' said Tax Administration Director Bozidar Kutlesa.

E-Passes linked health, police and the economy together, but also let the spirit out of the bottle. It's crystal clear now - we need fewer counties and municipalities. Croatia has 428 of them and much larger and much richer Germany only has 295. Experts suggest five regional units and the total abolition of some municipalities.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, suddenly we're all able to work from home. 69 percent of employees are now working from the safety of their homes now. Before coronavirus came knocking at Croatia's door, those who suggested working from home were called lazy, and today this is more than acceptable to most Croatian bosses. Admittedly, the Croatian Labour Law doesn't actually yet recognise this, so employers propose that working from home is also properly and officially made legal in the eyes of the law.

With the first wave of layoffs, there were also big queues in front of the Employment Bureau. And since this is a risky epidemiological situation, the Bureau asked all those wishing to register to submit their request by mail.

What we eat matters. The coronavirus pandemic has once again confirmed that we need to be far more self-sufficient than we are. Croatia produces enough cereals, beef, tangerines and other products to meet its own needs. We have the resources, we just need a plan and the political will.

Students will complete their school year at home, at least most of them. Classes are held online or via television. Who would have ever thought something like that would be possible in 21st-century-hating Croatia? With its masochistic adoration of paper, stamps, signatures, photocopies and the need for the presentation of an ID card before you can even get a conversation, coronavirus has shown that when it comes to digitalisation, Croatia is a country that can, and should.

Make sure to follow our coronavirus section for all you need to know about the pandemic in relation to Croatia.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Coronavirus: Bureaucracy-Loving Croatia Impressive in Digitisation

Paper, stamps and photocopies of obscure documents are, alongside the sea, what Croatia is well known for. It seems the coronavirus crisis has forced Croatia into the 21st century, and not a moment too soon...

As Tomislav Pili/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 21st of April, 2020, the current coronavirus pandemic has proven the importance of digitising a range of economic sectors, and Croatia is, rather shockingly, quite satisfactory in this area, according to an analysis by the European Investment Bank (EIB) entitled ''Who is ready for a new digital age'', which was presented on Monday.

Croatia is ranked among the 'strong countries' on the EIBIS Digitisation Index, given that the Croatian digitisation rate is above the EU average in the construction, services and infrastructure sectors.

Croatia earned 63 points according to the index and is in the company of Slovenia, Sweden, Portugal, Estonia, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Austria. The highest value of 84 points was taken by Denmark and the lowest - 48 points - was taken by Lithuania.

In addition, the digitalisation rate in the Croatian services sector is also higher than even the US average, which generally stands better than the European Union, let alone paper-loving-stamp-needing Croatia, in terms of digitisation.

The EIB report states that 40 percent of Croatian companies in the manufacturing and construction sectors have been partially digitised, and 18 percent in manufacturing and 15 percent in construction have been fully digitised.

In the service sector, more than half of Croatian companies are partially digitised, and if fully digitalised companies are added, the share grows to more than 70 percent. In comparison, in the European Union, 40 percent of companies in the sector are partially digitised, and in the US, just under 50 percent of them are.

Among large companies, the rate of digitisation in the service sector in Croatia stands at an impressive 80 percent, while the US average is about 65 percent and the European average is about 55 percent. As expected, small businesses - defined by the EIB's report as having fewer than 50 employees - cannot afford to make major investments in the area, so 40 percent of them in the service sector are digitised, as opposed to every other one being digitised in the European Union and over in the US.

In what segments is Croatia still falling behind?

The extent to which the digitalisation of business brings positive effects is evidenced by the fact that the share of companies who have done so have increased their number of employees in the last three years, or they've at the very least remained more stable than companies that didn't start the process at all.

Namely, the average labour productivity of digitised Croatian companies has reached a value of 11.2, while in the European Union it is above 12, and in the USA it is very close to that same figure. At the same time, the median salary in a digitised Croatian company is around 15,000 euros a year, while the median salary in such a company elsewhere in the European Union is a very different 38,000 euros.

In general, European companies are less digitised than their US competitors, and they're particularly lagging behind in the construction sector. In addition, American companies are investing more and more in improving their business processes. It seems however, that both European and US companies perceive digital infrastructure similarly.

For more on business in Croatia, follow this page. For all you need to know about coronavirus in relation to Croatia, follow our dedicated section.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Digital Croatia: Pension Insurance Institute Embarks on Digitisation

A more digital Croatia is on the horizon and a farewell to taking entire days off work to wait in pointless queues only to be told incorrect information by a poorly trained clerk could be closer than ever. The Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (HZMO) is another Croatian institution set to place a great big ''E'' in front of its services, and it can't happen soon enough.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes on the 7th of March, 2020, the tender for the first two phases of the digitisation of HZMO is now over, and the tender(s) for the following two phases is expected in the last quarter of this year.

The project, named the Modernisation of ICT Support of the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (HZMO) - or eHZMO, according to director Ivan Serdar, is one of the largest in the entire history of the institution, which truly isn't difficult to believe.

The Institute uses all available tools and channels in its communication, but it still uses traditional methods far more often than it uses modern ones.

''The Institute's large daily data processing system, which continuously caters to more than 1.5 million insured persons, more than 1.2 million pension beneficiaries and more than 150 thousand child allowance users (for more than 300 thousand children), requires modern information and communication technologies. That's why we launched the project and the EU recognised it by awarding more than 144 million kuna in grants for it,'' says Serdar.

The restructuring of HZMO's administration is a necessary step in the points of order launched by this project, especially since some processes date from the early 1980's and rely heavily on the concept of paper documents circulation, which is incredibly embarrassing when application solutions should absolutely cover the paper process exclusively in this day and age.

Unfortunately, the same can be said for the majority of institutions operating within the Republic of Croatia and that is why a digital Croatia that can drag the country into the 21st century is desperately needed. The country holding the rotating EU Presidency asking people for stamps and to take numbers and wait in line? It's more than just a little bit shameful.

As previously stated, the tenders for the first two phases of the project have now been completed and the evaluation of the submitted bids is currently in progress, but for the second two phases - which regards the implementation of the new IT system to cope with basic and support processes, the announcement is expected in the last quarter of 2020 and 145.3 million kuna has been secured for it.

Strengthening efficiency

The project, which is to be officially announced next week, claims to have a significant impact on the efficiency of internal IT processes, which will consequently significantly increase the quality of service to all users. “In layman's terms, it will reduce paperwork and red tape for users in exercising their rights through new and improved e-services.

It will then fully digitise the processes and all of the documentation, and by digitising, HZMO will transform existing processes and rearrange them so that the same or better results are achieved in a much more efficient way.

While it's rather embarrassing that so many processes and procedures in Croatia aren't digitised, it's great to see that a digital Croatia now appears to be closer to reality than it ever has been before.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on digital Croatia.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Rujana Bakic on Croatian Digital Citizen 2.0, Empowering Libraries (VIDEO INTERVIEW)

February 23, 2020 - As Google.org announces a second $400,000 for the Croatian Makers IRIM project, TCN talks to Rujana Bakic on empowering libraries and Croatian Digital Citizen 2.0. 

I have a very romantic notion of Croatian libraries. When I entered my first Croatian library back in August 2002 in Jelsa, there she was - a beautiful blonde assistant librarian with eyes the colour of the Adriatic. 18 years later, she is sitting across the room from me, preparing a presentation for me for a conference speech, my wife of more than 13 years. 

Back then, in 2002, we had a daily routine. As the library was the only place with public internet on her computer, she had to make it available for paying users, such as myself. And so our friendship started. 

Romance aside, one ageing desktop with eternally slow internet did not leave me with a lasting impression that Croatian libraries were a potential foundation pillar of digital change in Croatia. But, as with many things in Croatia, with the will and determination of a few good men and women, mountains can be moved. 

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One of the most exciting projects in Croatia today, planting digital seeds for future and current generations is taking hold not only in Croatia but all over the region, led by Nenad and Rujana Bakic and described thus on the official website:

IRIM (Institute for Youth Development and Innovativity) is a Croatia-based non-profit organization (private foundation), which has developed and implements the largest extracurricular STEM program in EU – the Croatian Makers movement, encompassing now over 150,000 children in Croatia. Although IRIM originates from, and primarily operates in, Croatia, it has transposed its activities to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, where IRIM and local partners deliver IRIM-designed major projects (with initial funding from IRIM), reaching tens of thousands more children. Some programs are joint regional activities. Such cross-border co-operation is of utmost significance in the region which still suffers consequences stemming from the conflicts in the 1990s.

IRIM donates a large amount of equipment, but only as a foundation for wide and deep knowledge distribution using that equipment, through organized activities, teacher education (more than 3,000 teachers educated only in Croatia), content development etc.

The initial and still the core financing comes from local philanthropists, the Bakić family, but due to developing size and scope of its activities it has lately been attracting additional financing from external sources, including citizens (through public crowdfunding campaigns and general donations), companies, national and EU development funds. At the moment, IRIM employs 10 people, but has developed a strong ecosystem of educators ('ambassadors') and rich content platforms, enabling it to leverage its activities. 

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Partnering with Google.org who dispersed an initial grant of $250,000 to IRIM back in 2018, Nenad and Rujana Bakic and the IRIM team have been focusing part of their efforts on transforming Croatian libraries from static and disconnected buildings which store books for hire to places of learning, innovation and empowerment. Apart from donating equipment, the project - which last week received an addition $400,000 grant from Google for the next year - is also heavily focused on education, training and workshops, empowering librarians with new digital skills to assist their library users.  

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Empowered and well-trained librarians at the local level are in a great position to assist the local community and develop skills for the future - for all generations - and there have been more than 1,500 workshops just for librarians so far. 

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More than 13,000 people of all ages have taken part in the project, taking advantage of the technology, expertise and equipment donated to the libraries by IRIM. 

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The project is ambitious and is expanding rapidly, with greater 3D printer availability and the world's first 'makerspaces' in libraries in the world coming to Croatia soon. 

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Rujana Bakic was among the speakers at this week's gathering at HAZU in Zagreb, hosted by Google.org and IRIM, which was attended by the US Ambassador to Croatia, Robert Kohorrst. Rujana hosted a panel talking to librarians and end users on their real-life experiences the IRIM library services. 

I am grateful that she found the time to explain the project to us in greater detail on camera in perfect English, and with great passion. 

Thank you both, and the entire IRIM team, for this fantastic initiative. Idemo dalje!

Monday, 10 February 2020

Digital Croatia: Digitisation of Pension Insurance to See End of Queues?

For many years, a more digital Croatia was the stuff of fantasies. How could this little country which loves the idea of making people take time off work to masochistically wait in lines to be told false information by poorly trained member of staff ever give up on that and opt for the ''do it yourself from home'' approach of more advanced countries? 

Amazingly enough, it seems Croatia is slowly but surely entering the 21st century, the idea of taking numbers and waiting in lines for hours on end are coming to an end, and a digital Croatia is now closer than ever.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 10th of February, 2020, the Institute has received 141.5 million kuna grants from the European Social Fund for the project of the digitisation of the pension insurance services, which should last for 46 months - meet eHZMO.

A co-financing contract for a project worth a total of 166.6 million kuna was signed on Friday at the Ministry of Labour. During the aforementioned 46 months, which is the project foreseen duration, the modernisation of the HZMO information and communication system and business processes will be carried out to increase internal efficiency and effectiveness for staff and individuals alike.

The new IT solutions, based in part on the use of artificial intelligence, will enable users to e-communicate with HZMO for most services without the need to take time out of their day to physically come to counters to speak to staff, and the consolidation of business after the completion of the project will provide a more proactive approach to users and have certain services made available regardless of opening hours.

"Considering the number of users that HZMO deals with on a daily basis and with today's digital environment, the quality of service depends largely on adequate IT support. An increasing number of citizens want to solve their problem with the service they need with a single click from their own home," said Ivan Serdar, HZMO's director.

For more on digital Croatia, give our lifestyle page a follow.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Digital Croatia: 2020 Bringing Less Queues, Less Drama, Less Uhljebs?

A digital Croatia was once a pipe dream and not much more. This country is worryingly infamous for its senseless, draconian bureaucracy and its love of turning what should be one sheet of paper into ten.

This love of paper, waiting, queues, being abused by salteruše (women who work behind counters in state administration buildings) and taking a number and waiting for hours is as masochistic as it is sadistic. Such is life in this country, Uhljebistan, from time to time.

It's difficult to understand how an EU country in the 21st century, where computers actually exist, still finds it acceptable to make people take entire days off work to sit and wait in queues in windowless, airless offices with numbers for their turn to be belittled by an unqualified salteruša who only has that job because she's someone's cousin's friend from school - just to get their hands on a piece of paper they're perfectly entitled to. A digital Croatia could prevent at least some of the idiocy of these types of experiences.

The tax office, MUP, HZZO offices and everything along those lines sends shivers down the spines of the experienced, who set out of their houses, having to drop all of their obligations, ready to be greeted with the expressionless pan face of an administrative clerk behind some dirty glass, prepared to have an argument over absolutely nothing after said salteruša reels off outdated or indeed completely false information as apathetic onlookers also awaiting their fate watch.

Could we finally be approaching the tail end of all of that utter nonsense and entering with the new decade into the era of digital Croatia? Maybe. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 1st of January, 2020, this year, life will become much easier with the digitisation of the dreaded Croatian administration. Registering a newborn baby, applying for a permit to build a house or the issuing of ID cards and passports are part of 77 new services from e-Građani (e-Citizens).

Applying for access to land records, applying for construction and location permits, purchasing vignettes for a boat, and giving consent for a passport or child's ID card are all part of the new public e-services recently made available to citizens thanks to the birth of digital Croatia.

From the comfort of their own homes, as opposed to being trapped in a poorly decorated room with other victims of Uhljebistan, citizens will now be able to perform 77 e-services through the e-Citizens system, which was established back in 2015 and used by 804,881 citizens, as 24sata reports.

In order to be used, one must register with the central government portal. When e-Citizens started operating, only a few services could be used and there were few ways to sign up, but now things are beginning to expand, finally.

Each service that can be used through the e-Citizens system states what level of authentication is required, or in what way a person must be logged in to use it. More and more banks are making use of the e-Citizens system with registration through their token or m-token. Such registration has a security level of 3. It is sufficient, for example, to obtain a certificate of impunity or to report dependents and so forth.

A newborn baby can also be registered from home via the e-newborn (e-novorođenče) system, but the baby's mother must have a new ID card with an electronic signature verified in order to do so. If the father also has a new e-ID, he can confirm the mother's application from home as well, and if he does not have one, then it still needs to be done the old way, by going to the registry office. In addition to obtaining documentation without going to offices, the e-Citizens system also sends messages to your Personal Inbox to update you.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on digital Croatia.

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