Arnaud Castaignet

E-Residency and Its Future

This article is written by Mohammad Eslim, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

It has been a long 20-year journey for Estonia until it became this technology ridden developing country. They started with the e-Tax boards in 2000 and by 2002, Estonia founded the Digital ID card. Right to this moment Estonia has by far the most highly-developed national ID card system in the world. Much more than a legal photo ID, the mandatory national card also provides digital access to all of Estonia’s secure e-services. The chip on the card carries embedded files, and using 2048-bit public key encryption, it can be used as definitive proof of ID in an electronic environment.

The digital ID card is useful in many ways than not; for example, your e-identity can be used as a legal travel ID for Estonian citizens travelling within the EU, national health insurance card, proof of identification when logging into bank accounts, or use it for digital signatures, to check medical records, submit tax claims, to use e-Prescriptions, or for the e-government service called i-Voting.

E-Residency is a new digital nation for global citizens, powered by the Republic of Estonia. With e-Residency, anybody in the world can apply for a government-issued digital identity and start a location independent business online. Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency, a government-issued digital ID available to anyone in the world. Moreover, E-Residency offers the freedom to easily start and manage a global business in a trusted EU environment.

With e-Residency the country shows that it doesn’t really have to choose between opening up to the world, though digitally, and bringing worth to the population there.  The e-Residency program is based on four core values; the first is that it is inclusive meaning any person on this planet, from 157 country, is legitimate to apply for e-Residency in Estonia.

Speaking about legitimacy, e-Residency isn’t some type of blockchain community or some random linking group, this residency is actually real digital ID and companies created with the same access to the European market and the same rights and obligations as any company. Third point is that the program is transparent, which is something every institution and administration have in common and the final core point the program is based on is being empowering as e-Residency stands for the equality of opportunities.

Applying to the program, you will have to issue your digital ID card and take it from the embassy. Now we only have 34 embassies around the world, which makes it hard for e-Residents to pick up there IDs, for example, in South America and many other countries. Therefore, there is this plan to open up e-Residency centers in which you should be able to pick up your digital ID card even if it’s not an embassy.

The first e-Residency center that opened is in South Korea and others will soon follow around the globe and in different places like Sydney, Tokyo and Istanbul.  There will be a competition between countries for residency programs on the count of Azerbaijan launching m-Residency program based on mobile ID.

In the near future Estonia is going to be the first country to issue visas for digital nomads who want to visit Estonia and travel in the EU and even work at the same time as there is nothing to permit this right now. They are also planning to add more features to the program to make it easier for the residents to showcase their services and for eastern companies to offer their services to the residents.

Finally we see that e-residency could be used to promote a strong culture, a strong history and a strong vision of the world.

─ August 13, 2019