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Estonia expands e-Residency program to borderless digital banking

The world’s first e-residency program in Estonia has expanded to include “borderless digital banking,” offering businesses affected by the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union an opportunity to stay part of the bloc—at least financially.

The e-residency program, first launched in 2014, allows anyone in the world to apply for a digital identity in Estonia. You can then use a government-issued identity card to sign documents, open a bank account and register companies from abroad. However, until now, e-residents have had to travel to the country in order to register bank accounts.

A new partnership with the Finnish fintech company Holvi will eliminate the need for e-residents to travel to that country in order to access business banking, meaning e-residents from the U.K. and other nations can easily set up an EU company.

“Business banking is radically transforming for almost everyone on earth, and this can help unlock global growth by democratizing access to entrepreneurship,” e-residency program director Kaspar Korjus explained in a blog post.

“This partnership with Holvi will further lower the barriers to entrepreneurship and help expand e-residency to many more people around the world who have been unable until now to establish a trusted company with the tools needed to conduct business globally.”

Since the program's launch, in December 2014, more than 20,000 people have signed up as e-residents from 138 countries, establishing more than 3,000 companies through the initiative. And since the Brexit vote last year, Korjus says applications from the U.K. have increased, with more than 1,000 British citizens applying for e-residency.

Borderless banking will give U.K. companies access to the EU business environment, opening up a “new era for location-independent entrepreneurs,” according to Korjus.

“Entrepreneurship is on the rise, and no matter the location of these businesses, they all share one common problem: They are currently being underserved in their financial matters,” said Holvi CEO Antti-Jussi Suominen in an emailed comment to Newsweek.

“We have followed the e-residency initiative since the beginning and see this partnership as an excellent match to help entrepreneurs around the world run their businesses successfully.”


By Richard J. Witismann on 28 May, 2017