Estonia E-residency is soft power five years after launch

In December it will be five years since the launch of Estonia’s e-residency initiative, newspaper Postimees interviewed one of the founders Siim Sikkut about the scheme’s development.

Sikkut, who is also Government Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Deputy Secretary-General for IT and Telecom, told Postimees the current situation is bigger than any of the three founders “dared to dream” when the scheme was first launched in 2015 in terms of how many companies have been launched and what has been achieved.

Financially he estimates the scheme has brought €31 million to Estonia but some of the benefits, such as increasing the country’s reputation abroad, cannot only be measured financially, “This side of soft power has been surprisingly bigger than we thought,” he said.

“The biggest challenge is being able to grow fast enough,” he said when asked about the biggest challenges e-residency is facing, adding that having a flexible budget which will allow them to do so is important and the country working together as a state as “there would be no e-residency without the Ministry of Interior, PPA (police and boarder guard) or without the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Sikkut said other such as places such as Dubai, Azerbaijan, and Lithuania are looking at launching forms of e-residency in the future, he also added that there had also been no problems with e-residents and money laundering pointing to the scheme’s background checks.

Last week ERR News reported that more than 10,000 companies had been opened with e-residency, Finland, Russia, Germany, Ukraine and the United Kingdom are the top five countries where the most business has come from, he said.

The full interview can be read in English on Postimees here.

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