I recently became an e-Resident of Estonia. To do so, I had to apply online, pay €100, go through some identity checks, then visit the Estonian Embassy in London. The nice lady in the basement checked my UK passport, took a digital thumbprint and gave me a box containing my e-Residency card, which looks like a credit card, and a small plastic gizmo which enables me to connect the card to a computer using a USB port. I downloaded some software apps and can now use the card to securely identity myself, and access services in Estonia. If I was a full citizen of Estonia, a similar card, with a photograph on it, would act as my passport, driving licence and source of identity to access all public services.
So why did I do this?
Estonia is more advanced than any other nation in digitising access to government services. Estonia only declared independence from the Soviet Union in the summer of 1991, and has only 1.3 million citizens. With great imagination, the government decided to distinguish itself by building digital identity into everything the government does. Then, it occurred to the project leaders that they could scale up by offering residency to anybody in the world, instead of keeping the benefits to themselves. The e-residency service launched at the end of 2014.
e-Residency enables me to:
- Establish a company online, which is inside the European Union. This eliminates some of the uncertainty caused by the exit of the UK from the EU.
- Manage that company from anywhere.
- Trade through that company globally, with management of funds through bank accounts that appear to be inside different countries and in different currencies, but are all under my control.
This is only the beginning of what is possible, since the Estonians are evolving the platform very rapidly to meet the needs of “digital nomads” everywhere.
On 22nd August, Kaspar Korjus, Managing Director of e-Residency, announced that Estonia could offer “estcoins” to e-residents. This would make Estonia the first country to carry out an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), which nicely unifies e-Residency with our other interests in DLT and related matters, as we discussed here.
I’ll write more about this as events unfold….
If you need help understanding what this world of DLT, ICOs, Bitcoin, Ethereum and e-Residency has to do with your future, please contact us.