Happy 3rd birthday to our global e-resident community

We prepared a gift for you.

It’s amazing how fast newborns grow up, as I’m discovering with my own son Ruufus.

E-Residency was born three years ago today when Estonia became the first country to launch the programme as a government startup.

The programme began life in private beta mode when Edward Lucas, the Senior Editor of the Economist, was handed his digital ID card by then President Ilves and made history as the world’s first e-resident.

A few months later, the programme took its first tentative steps when it entered public beta mode and everyone on Earth was invited to apply.

Those who work at startups will be very familiar with the concept of beta mode. It essentially means that we know not everything is perfect, but we are going to keep improving our ‘product’ while people are already using it and gaining value from it.

Back then though, many people were unsure what the actual value of e-Residency would be and whether people would want to sign up. Today, we have nearly 30,000 e-residents from around the world and you can read about some of the main reasons why they’ve signed up here.

We made some bold predictions three years ago, starting with the ambitious goal of attracting 10 million e-residents to add to our country of 1.3 million residents by 2025.

For that, we would need exponential growth as we continuously improve the experience of being an e-resident. I’m pleased to say that the programme has been growing steadily and the application rate has accelerated this year as word spreads about the benefits of being an e-resident.

We are currently ahead of our targets for the growth of the programme and I believe we will achieve our goal of 10 million e-residents by 2025.

However, we’ve also realised that it’s important to measure the real value that e-residents gain from the programme too. The main benefit at present is the ability to establish a trusted location-independent company so we now also have a goal of helping e-residents establish more than 20,000 new companies by 2025.

This economic activity makes a significant impact on Estonia. Earlier today, Deloitte published an independent analysis, which revealed that every euro invested in e-Residency by Estonian taxpayers is projected to return 100 euros to the Estonian economy. However, we will only reach this if e-Residency continues to offer real value that significantly improves the lives of people around the world.

At the launch of e-Residency, we also predicted that more countries would compete for e-residents in future based on the quality of their e-services and online business environment.

Azerbaijan is now the second country to launch an e-Residency programme (which they’ve called mResidency), while a number of other countries are in various stages of discussions about launching their own. In addition, a rapidly increasing number of policy makers from around the world have been coming to Estonia this year to learn more about the programme and possibly launch their own e-Residency.

E-Residency is becoming the new normal so perhaps 2018 will be the year that the term starts entering dictionaries around the world.

We don’t fear this competition in Estonia. We embrace the potential of e-Residency to improve the quality of governance for everyone and each country will compete on their own unique strengths.

In Estonia, we’re proud that our e-Residency offers an open and transparent EU business environment for global entrepreneurs.

All e-residents receive background checks from the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board before they are handed their secure government-issued digital identity. Key data about their companies established in Estonia is then publicly available in official records, such as taxation and the identity of owners.

E-residents like this high level of trust it enables them to conduct business more easily with customers, partners, and suppliers around the world, as well as provide greater access to the financial tools required to grow a company.

In fact, Spanish e-resident Francisco Garcia recently posted in the Estonian e-residents Facebook group to ask if there was an icon that he could use on his website to show that his company is part of the e-Residency community.

There wasn’t. However, it’s such an excellent idea that we went and created one.

So here’s our birthday gift for e-residents: the Trusted e-Residency Company badge.

If you are an e-resident who has established a company in our open and transparent business environment then you are welcome to download and use it, both online and offline.

There’s also a transparent version (just like our business environment) so you can choose the one that best fits your own background and colour scheme. You are welcome to use it alongside your own logo.

Please just link it back here when you use it online so people can find out more about what it means.

Thank you to everyone who has joined and helped grow our new digital nation over these past three years. We’re got even more exciting plans for next year and we can’t wait to build the future with you.

Here’s the full guide on how to download and use the Trusted e-Residency Company badge.