E-residency rapidly gaining popularity
Almost double the initial estimated amount of people have signed up to become e-residents of Estonia since the programme’s launch at the end of 2014.
According to figures released by Ministry of Economic Affairs, as of July, 3,816 applications have been submitted by people wishing to claim e-residency in the country. This is almost double the initial target of 2,000 officials hoped would sign up before the end of 2015.
“This is a new and important market for our businesses,” Kristen Michal, the minister of economic affairs, said. “For example, if we get 30,000 e-residents, it could bring an estimated €60 million.”
“This is the Estonian e-government’s best investment opportunity that must not be missed,” he added.
So far people from Finland, Russia and Ukraine have submitted the most applications.
E-residency is a virtual residency close to the status of permanent resident status, which may be acquired by persons who don’t reside in the country.
They will gain access to a government-issued secure digital identity that gives foreigners the opportunity to use e-services, which traditionally have been open only to local residents.
Well-known e-residents of Estonia, who have already signed up, include British journalist Edward Lucas, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the head of Swedbank, Michael Wolf.
10 million „e-Estonians“ by 2025
Why not become an e-Estonian? Taavi Kotka, Deputy Secretary General for Communication and State Information Systems of Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications introduces the new policy of Estonia on becoming an e-resident of Estonia
Estonian citizens are able to perform nearly every public and private sector transaction in digital form, including signing any document. Until now, this ability has not extended to foreigners who are permanent residents of countries other than Estonia. Therefore, on April 24th, 2014, the Government of the Republic decided to approve the concept of issuing digital IDs to non-residents. This forms a basis for the growth of the international competitiveness of the Estonian state in the fields of economy, science, education, healthcare, etc.
For example, the adoption of non-resident ID cards is an additional argument in favor of investing in Estonia. Today, it is difficult for a foreign investor to actively participate in the executive management of a company (that is, to fulfill the tasks of a Member of the Board). The non-resident ID card and digital signature would provide the necessary flexibility.
Here is another example. There are entrepreneurs and investors both within and outside the European Union who are looking for opportunities to create their own company or investment vehicle in the EU. The ability to incorporate and open a bank account (not just in Estonia, but in the EU!) within a single day is only one of the services that Estonia can offer to holders of non-resident ID cards. Not to mention the simple, fully digital tax system, flexibility in attracting highly qualified (digital) labor, etc.
In addition, reinvested profit is tax-free in Estonia, and the highly developed e-banking environment gives you immediate control of your assets from a distance. This means that Estonia has the potential to be attractive to entrepreneurs who need an investment account (vehicle), and this would result in additional customers and capital for Estonian businesses.
E-residence provides a unique opportunity to create a globally innovative suite of public and private services that are usable irrespective of location: convenient incorporation, bank transactions, tax reporting, medical counseling, etc. This can be based on existing Estonian e-services, developing them further and adding new ones.
The state intends to create a fundamental platform for new business opportunities in this area. However, the development of the necessary infrastructure and range of services requires the coordination and joint effort of the public and private sectors. The aim must be ambitious: currently there is 1,3 million estonians, but at least 10 million people around the world should connect themselves to Estonia via the digital identity. E-residence can make Estonia truly great!