Having successfully attended my first blockchain-notarized wedding, I can safely say I am as confused as ever. I’m touched that I got to share an intimate moment with some lovely-seeming strangers. Edurne and Mayel, so-called glomads from Basque country, have taken up e-residency in Estonia in order to make use of Estonia’s digital notary service. But in what sense are they now married? I think this question can only be tackled in two parts.
What does it mean to be a virtual resident of Estonia? Do you pay taxes? Can you vote?
Echoing the e-Estonia web site, Elza van Swieten, aka ConfluenceMedia, writes that virtual citizenship doesn’t make you a legal resident or give you right of entry, but it does give you access to a suite of services that Estonians enjoy. You can “sign all documents, launch and manage companies, do the banking, encrypt files,” she writes. Having never launched or managed a company, this is opaque to me. What are the obstacles that people normally face that e-Estonia has swept away? Who is the target audience for these services? Is it at heart ideologically driven — a rejection of corporate software offerings?
You can digitally sign documents in a more verified and verifiable way than was ever possible before in the general marketplace. You can open bank accounts. And doing business as an Estonian e-Resident gives an entrepreneur access to Euro markets, even if it doesn’t come with an EU passport.
That sounds promising. But the most comprehensive account on Medium of life as an e-Estonian comes from Thomas K. Running, who discovered that it’s actually quite tricky to open a bank account — unless you utter this one sentence.
What does it mean to have one’s wedding notarized on the blockchain? Who recognizes this agreement? How would it affect, say, visitation rights at a hospital or a custody battle?
“The BITNATION Public Notary is not valid in any jurisdiction except in ‘blockchain jurisdiction’. If a couple gets married on the Public Notary, it doesn’t mean they get married in the jurisdiction of Estonia, or in any other nation-state jurisdiction. Instead, they get married in the ‘blockchain jurisdiction.’”
… which clears up not much for me. Who/what recognizes the blockchain jurisdiction? If you get married on the blockchain, what changes? Jean-Pierre, tell me more!
Despite ongoing foggy-headedness, I am developing a growing appreciation for blockchain-based governance. Andy Tudhope writes about the potential for slimmer, less corrupt governments once blockchain governance makes smart contracts easy to use. I can’t pretend I fully get it yet, but I’m getting a shade closer.
I’d love to hear specific stories from anyone who has made use of virtual residency in Estonia — perhaps Elza/ConfluenceMedia or Thomas or Nico Caramella or Stanislav Yurin? For example, why’d you use it? What would the alternative have been, and why was that less attractive? How has it worked for you so far?