Estonia launched its e-residency program about three years ago and, since then, about 22,000 people from all over the world signed up to the program that gives them a government-backed digital ID, the ability to register an EU company, access to business banking, and tools to digitally sign documents without actually living there.
Now, as reported by CCN, Estonia might be the first country in the world to offer its own token through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). The token, according to a blog post published by the country’s e-residency managing director Kaspar Korjus, would be dubbed “estcoin”.
Although Estonia isn’t the first country in the world to consider launching its own digital currency – back in June CCN reported on China’s central bank testing its own national cryptocurrency – its e-residency program may give it an edge over other countries.
According to Korjus, no other country has even come close to developing the technology and the legal frameworks, that would enable it to securely manage tradeable crypto assets. Government oversight and Estonia’s digital infrastructure mean it won’t be possible to counterfeit the token, or to use it for illegal activities.
Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin gave his feedback on the proposal, and stated that he believes the token could provide ways of incentivizing investors. He stated:
“An ICO within the e-Residency ecosystem would create a strong incentive alignment between e-residents and this fund, and beyond the economic aspect makes the e-residents feel like more of a community since there are more things they can do together.”
Estcoins could be used to pay for both public and private services in the country, and could even one day function as a viable currency throughout the world, according to Korjus. If an ICO is indeed going to take place, raised funds would be managed by a public-private partnership that guarantees funds are only used for the developments of Estonia’s digital infrastructure. As Korjus put it, Estonia is looking to “ensure its state can function entirely independent of its own territory”.
Estcoin could enable Estonia to invest in smart contracts and artificial intelligence for the public sector, and even make Estonia a model for how future societies can be served in the digital era, according to Korjus. Part of the funds could even be used to help Estonian companies, as well as those set up by e-residents.
Although it might be exciting for a small Baltic nation to issue its own national cryptocurrency and be ahead of the rest of the world, Estcoin is still in its early stages, according to Korjus who told TheNextWeb that, despite that, the country has the infrastructure to make it happen.
He states that the goal, for now, was just to gather feedback.
“Our goal with presenting the idea today is to get feedback and gather thoughts before moving ahead with developing the idea further. We already see a strong interest and support coming from the leaders of Estonia’s startup community.”
On Estonia’s e-residency website, anyone can sign up to keep up with Estcoin and the world’s first government ICO. The team also hopes people will provide feedback with the hashtags #estcoin and #eresidency on social media. Once enough feedback has been gathered, a whitepaper will be created before a pilot project is launched to assess demand.
Featured image from Shutterstock.