9 Reasons to Launch or Expand a Startup in Estonia

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1. The Republic of Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency, a government-issued digital identity that empowers entrepreneurs around the world to set up and run a location-independent business

E-Residency is a new digital nation for global citizens, powered by the Republic of Estonia. Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency, a government-issued digital ID available to anyone in the world. E-Residency offers the freedom to easily start and run a global business in a trusted EU environment.

Source: Estonia E-Residency

The e-Residency project was launched on December 1, 2014. As of March 15, 2017, over 18,300 people from 136 countries worldwide had applied for and over 17,300 have received the eID. As of March 15, 2017, more than 1,400 e-residents have established a company and there are over 2,700 companies connected to e-residents (owners, board members, etc.).

E-residents can:

  • Establish and administer a company online (a company can be incorporated in 15 minutes, and taxes paid in 3). Moreover, Estonia has one of the most liberal tax systems in the world — zero corporate tax income.
  • Conduct banking online. E.g.: make electronic bank transfers.
  • Have access to international payment service providers like PayPal, Braintree, etc.
  • Digitally sign documents (e.g.: annual reports, contracts) within the company as well as with external partners.
  • Declare Estonian taxes online.

All of this can be done in a cost-efficient and hassle-free way, without the need to hire any local director or representative (unless they want to, of course).

Finnish FinTech company Holvi has partnered with the government of Estonia and its e-Residency business program, allowing almost anyone anywhere in the world to create a business account and obtain a Mastercard for a small monthly fee.

2. Transaction value in the FinTech market is expected to amount to US $1.025 billion in 2017, showing an annual growth rate (CAGR 2017–2021) of 20.5% resulting in the total amount of US $2.163 billion in 2021. The market’s largest segment is digital payments with a total transaction value of US $925 million in 2017.

3. Estonia is leading the government-level adoption of the distributed ledger technology

It’s been a little over a year since Nasdaq and the Republic of Estonia announced that Estonia’s e-Residency platform will be facilitating a blockchain-based e-voting service to allow shareholders of companies listed on Nasdaq’s Tallinn Stock Exchange, Estonia’s only regulated securities market, to vote in shareholder meetings. The program marks the second official blockchain project Nasdaq is executing on after successfully delivering the first private securities issuance between an investor and company via Nasdaq Linq, its blockchain-enabled platform.

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A year later, in 2017, the Republic of Estonia took another step towards blockchain hand-in-hand with Procivis, a Switzerland-based startup, which announced that it is going to present its proof of concept for a blockchain-backed e-government platform at the Microsoft Public Sector Digitization Practice Day in Bern. Procivis is currently raising seed funding and will collaborate closely with Estonian e-government experts for designing its services.

Regarding his motivation to start Procivis, company Founder Daniel Gasteiger said, “Learning about the level of digitization of the public sector in Estonia left me deeply impressed, especially when looking at the state of digitization in Western Europe, including Switzerland. By bringing Estonia’s leading e-government experts on board and adding our blockchain experience, our aim is to create a platform that can serve as the future electronic backbone of democracies across the globe.”

4. User-centricity at the core of eGovernment

According to the latest eGovernment Benchmark Report by EU, at the national level, many countries in the EU28+ show good results on User Centricity, with Estonia being among the top five (Malta, Austria, Estonia, Portugal, and Finland). Interestingly, the greatest progress over the years has been achieved by Austria (+10 points since the 2012 measurement) and Estonia (+8).

Moreover, even if with small progress over the years, Estonia, Malta, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Finland provide the easiest way to navigate public services. Taking into account the time the user takes to go through the online services (speed of use) Estonia and Iceland are leading the way.

5. Transparent governance

Within the eGovernment Benchmark Report 2016, the transparency top-level indicator shows Estonia holding the second place (81%), following the Malta as the top performer (97%). Moreover, on a sub-category level, Estonia ranks very high in the transparency of public administrations (89% in 2014–2015).

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