Country Snapshot: Hungary

Marc Jarrett
Birthplace of one of our industry's industrious globetrotting photographers — JFK of FUBAR Webmasters — Hungary came to be regarded as one of the most prosperous emerging European countries after the fall of communism back in 1989.

Indeed, my initial reaction after having visited for the first time was that I was experiencing a dose of Übercapatalism: well-known brands competing for attention in the newly built shopping temples that would put many in richer countries to shame, and casinos in practically every neighborhood. I recall thinking that Lenin must be turning in his grave.

However, it would appear that Hungary's fall in light of the global credit crisis has been just as swift as its rise: it recently became the first European Union country to finalize an emergency rescue by securing $25 billion from the International Monetary Fund to avoid going bankrupt.

Hungary has a population of about 10 million people, 42 percent of which have access to the Internet at this time.

Before the credit crunch, Hungary had the fifth largest payment card market in Central and Eastern Europe in terms of cards issued. However, both the issue and use of credit cards are expected to slow down considerably in this new era of austerity, making phone billing one of the only viable billing mechanisms if you are to continue making money from such countries.

Indeed, Hungary was one of the first ex-communist countries to liberalize its telecom sector and introduce pay-per-minute and pay-per-call premium rate phone billing, with rates to up to FL720 per minute. That's about $3.57 in U.S. dollars as I write, but this figure will probably decrease as the value of the Forint continues to tumble.

For Hungarian surfers, we serve the less expensive FL288 per minute numbers to pay-per-minute customers and FL432 per minute numbers to all pay-per-access customers, all in their native language of Hungarian, considered to be one of the most difficult languages for speakers of English to learn well.

Hungary was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world during the past decade, with its capital Budapest widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world. Its women are also beautiful; the countless models in Budapest's numerous strip clubs bear witness to this and the red-light district rivals that of Amsterdam. Sex sells, and Budapest knows it.

Another thing that struck me the most recent time I was there was the ususually high number of couples openly kissing one another. I viewed this as a sign of a wonderful place and look forward to one day returning to this amorous country.