“Governments are finally starting to try to compete for citizens on the virtual level.”– Tim Draper
Maya Middlemiss: "A couple of years back, I would have recommended paying attention to a small Baltic nation of Estonia on our global map, and I believe, I am not the only one to think this way. Estonia has a total population of 1.3 million people, and they earned their independence second time in 1991 from the Soviet Union. Later, enrolled in the European Union in the year 2003.
Estonia’s tale is an enticing one, as they have had perplexing relationships with Russia in the past. This has helped Estonia to emerge as the leading digital country in the present time. After being the flag-bearer of global e-residency policies and improvised e-governance protocols, Estonia has become one of the prominent and most-talked about nations among the EDGI (United Nation’s E-Government Department Index).
Two years back, when I was on my way to Estonia Embassy in Madrid to get my e-resident’s digital ID card, the entire scene of Russian cyberattacks wasn’t on my mind at all. Hardly a week ago, I applied online to get permission to run a global limited company permitting me to work with start-up businesses. I wanted to run this business as a Brat staying in Spain so that I can work with anyone around the globe.
While I was researching and writing about emerging technologies and Blockchain, I got to learn about the ‘digital Estonia.’ To me, it was an ideal virtual work to develop and run a trading institute. During digging more into this concept, I got to know about Estonia’s close relationships with digital identity dates which exploded as a discovery for me."
The Digital Natives
Once Taavi Rõivas, the Prime Minister of Estonia (2014-2016) said- “Estonia was basically rebooting the country from 50 years of Soviet occupation, and that needed to be done as effectively as possible. And, of course, 20 years ago, it was logical to start digitizing things, rather than relying on paper files or paper documents. So that’s where it initially started.”
With this, Estonia was capable of choosing a no-paperwork approach. There are several country’s governments who have been and are still practicing a paperwork approach. Eliminating paperwork from every government operation was much secured and transparent outlook that changed the working perception of many bureaucracies. This working attitude was ahead of many Africa bounded nations involving commerce and mobile communication as their primary medium of operation.
Be it a national or an e-resident, every Estonia resident interacts with the local or national administration system using digital ID cards or signatures.
Ott Vatter, the Managing Director of the e-Residency Scheme, illustrated the importance of involving digital ID cards incorporated with a chip in his words. He said-
“We kind of can’t imagine our lives without it. We talk to the government using this card, and we talk to the banks and tax officer; basically, everything happens through the card, then if we lost it, we’re kind of helpless, like we’d lost our key to our house.”
In Estonia’s law, an approved electronic signature is no lesser than a hand-written signature, seal, or stamp. All the businesses, financial institutes, etc. have been instructed to accept e-signatures. As the hand-drawn scrawls are referred to as underhand in Estonia, anyone requesting for written signature is seen with suspicious eyes.
Estonia is about to see yet another digital-native generation that expects to have advanced user-experience from the public sector’s end as they have been receiving from the commercial entities, so far. e of the eKool (e-school) system. Through this, the parents, teachers, and the students’ get access to marks and attendance as all of them to follow a tech-oriented curriculum. This makes Estonia one of the digitally developing nations on the Earth.
Estonia is about to see yet another digital-native generation which expects to have advanced user-experience from the public sector’s end as they have been receiving from the commercial entities, so far.
Right from Pipedrive to Transferwise, Estonia has been establishing successful businesses. To keep a check on each business’s progress and profit rate, they use Start-up Estonia.
The impressive business infrastructure and climate do not illustrate these well-established businesses in Estonia as homegrown. Why? It’s because one of the significant aspects of the digital-first approach is to abide by the global e-residence scheme of the nation.
Estonia’s Global Citizens
This scheme was introduced in December 2014. As per this, Edward Lucas (British Senior Editor at the Economist), was the first-ever e-resident with electronic ID number 1.
After Edward, Tim Draper (Venture Capitalist and Bitcoin-Community Specialist) was the next one to be registered as the e-resident. Later, Ben Horowitz and Guy Kawaski joined the league soon. Seeing the impact, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Trevor Noah (Former Director-General of the European Space Agency Jean-Jacques Dordian) and now more than 68,000 others showed their interest to be an e-resident of Estonia.
Amid all, Draper has been one of those who relished several leverages like- traded in the EU, opened a bank account, etc. As per him, he does this after being inspired by the authorities one gets after being an authorized e-resident of Estonia.