Estonia is a tiny nation in the European Baltic region. By airplane, it is about two hours north of Germany. With a population of 1.3 million people, it is the smallest member of the European Union (EU). However, despite its size, it is one of the fastest growing economies in the EU. And their progressive growth may be further fueled by a 2014 decision to offer e-Residency to you and me!
“The Republic of Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency — a transnational digital identity available to anyone in the world interested in administering a location-independent business online.”
Furthermore, their promotional materials tell us that e-residents can:
- Establish and administer a company online
- Conduct all the banking online, e.g. make electronic bank transfers
- Have access to international payment service providers
- Digitally sign documents (e.g. annual reports, contracts) within the company as well as with external partners
- Declare taxes online
At the heart of this landmark decision to offer e-residency is Estonia’s ability to effectively leverage technology. As a result of their free Wi-Fi, immense fiber-optic infrastructure and secure data exchange system, Estonians can electronically sign almost every document. In fact, it is purported that they are so integrated that citizens can file their taxes in less than five minutes. This competitive advantage provides Estonians with secure, seamless transactions and the ability to move information quickly. It also opens the door for people around the world to make use of this same system. For example, I can establish a business in Estonia as an e-citizen because I do not need to physically be present. Estonia has realized that digital information is borderless and built an immigration system that embraces it. Furthermore, they are hoping this strategy will stimulate the economy and broaden their tax base.
A few weeks ago I blogged about two counter-trends – globalization and tribalism (See Going Tribal: When Globalization Fails). In summary, society either seems to be polarizing to one of two extremes; we embrace the complex and messy aspects of globalization, or, we look inward and protect ourselves from outside forces. Estonia has clearly placed their betting chips on globalization. Their press release materials conclude by stating, “With e-Residency, you can become part of the digital society revolution taking place in our dynamic Northern European country. You can become an e-Estonian!”
Perhaps you and I will have the opportunity to become an Estonian e-Citizen next!
Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Estonian e-Residency
Photo Credit: Gadling