Editorial: Welcome to e-Estonia!

Barack Obamale kingitud ID-kaardi näidis.

PHOTO: Sander Retel

Yesterday, the much-talked-about e-resident bill, aimed at providing foreigners with Estonian ID-cards, passed the Riigikogu with flying colours – 80 for and none against.

The vast support serves to show the high expectations: creators of the projects are hungry for a success story, helping to sell Estonia globally as a little land innovative, open and forward-looking. 

For that, certain conditions seem to exist. For us, the digital services available by the ID-card may go without saying – while far from the case in other places in the world. Lion’s share of projects of the kind failing in other nations is the simple lack of a secure means of identifying a user. For us, the means exists as ID-card, the use of it pan-Estonian. Digital signature, authentication upon entry into various environments such as formalising legal operations related to one’s company – all that may only be provided when user is known.

The Estonian infrastructure working faultlessly for years, not a bad idea at all to offer on its basis services to people not connected to Estonia at all.   Quite probably, the e-residence project will lead to a connection. For instance, via that a foreign businessman will learn of our economic environment and may opt to establish a firm in Estonia, and to invest.

Comments have already come from Finland that the project will help entrepreneurs set up activity – along with questions about why Finland is lacking a think like this. The truth remaining: the larger a country and the deeper the established habits, the harder to get innovative stuff going. A boat is easier to turn than a tanker.

Still, it’s difficult to predict the success level of the project to be launched in December. The initial interest feels high enough, but the enthusiasm may quickly be cooled by the fact that in stage one people will need to show up in Estonia – physically – to do the formalities needed. In times to come, it is planned to offer all of that via embassies, making things simpler. And should the endeavour prove a success, surely other nations will follow suit. Thus Estonia now has her chance to prove the effectiveness and user-friendliness of our system – let’s make the most of it. 

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