By Kirsten Drysdale
December 2, 2014
A British journalist has officially become Estonia’s first e-resident, after being presented with his digital ID card by Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves at a ceremony in Tallinn.
Edward Lucas, a senior editor at The Economist magazine and an expert in cyber-security issues, said he had a long-held interest in Estonia’s “digital society” and expected e-residency would come with practical benefits.
“I’ve always made it clear that I would like this very much,” Mr. Lucas said.
“It’s much more important, I think, than getting a medal or something like that, because it’s not only symbolically important and highlights my long connection with Estonia, but it’s something I can use every day.
“I do run a small company which I use for my freelance work which I run with my wife, and we’re now quite tempted to put this company in Estonia and pay Estonian taxes, and see how that goes.”
The small Baltic country – often described as the most wired country in Europe – recently passed a law to allow non-citizens access to its suite of online services, in a move that has been described as “the beginning of the end of the nation-state”.
The main appeal of the offer is the government-backed digital signature, facilitated by an ID card embedded with a computer-readable chip.
E-residency project manager Kaspar Korjus recently told the ABC’s 7.30 program he had been surprised by the huge level of interest in the program.
“I would like to call this a government start-up in a sense, in that currently all the processes and services are not exactly there yet,” Mr Korjus said.
Mr. Korjus is projecting there will be 10 million e-residents by 2025.
Mr. Lucas said he expects other countries will soon follow suit.
“I think the most important thing about this is that competition is really good and Estonia is the first country to do this, but I’m sure there’ll be others,” he said.
“I hear Singapore is thinking [about it] and we’ll see which countries come up with the best ideas and then other people will try and copy them.”