A new virtual marketplace connects Estonian service providers to e-residents

A new virtual e-residency marketplace helps Estonia’s e-residents connect with and find cooperation partners among Estonian service providers.

Over 75,000 Estonian e-residents have already established over 15,000 Estonian companies; about one in five e-residents creates an Estonian business. The renewed virtual e-residency marketplace offers e-residents a convenient way to find cooperation partners among Estonian service providers. The marketplace was created to draw the attention of e-residents to the fact that starting a business relationship with companies not represented in the marketplace is riskier, Enterprise Estonia, the state-run agency responsible for promoting Estonia abroad and attracting investment, said in a statement.

According to Dagmar Vlassov, the deputy head of the e-residency programme, the greater role of Estonian service providers in the e-residency ecosystem is the key to how the Estonian state would benefit more from the success and activity of e-resident companies.

“Estonia is the only country in the world that offers the opportunity to create and manage a company remotely using e-services. In most cases, this requires the help of service providers. The new e-residency virtual marketplace offers e-residents security and transparency,” Vlassov said.

Helps local businesses expand across borders

“The background of the marketplace service providers has been verified by the e-residency programme, the companies presented in it adhere to the code of conduct required by the program and advise their clients on transparent and law-abiding business.”

Martin Lään, a member of the management board of E-Residency Hub, the company that provides business management services to e-residents, asserts that e-residency has created a new market niche for Estonian companies.

“The e-residency programme helps local businesses expand across borders. Modern IT solutions enable us to create remote jobs also in those Estonian regions, where the opportunities were more limited so far. For example, our team includes accountants who live and work in Tamsalu and Viljandi,” he said.

E-residency helps with a cross-border business. The image is illustrative.

Ragnar Everest, the CEO of 1Office, one of the largest companies serving e-residents in Estonia, pointed out that, thanks to e-residency, more business is coming to Estonia and the country has become a centre for international business.

Over 60 companies present in the marketplace

“E-residency contributes to the growth of the country’s innovation and shapes Estonia’s reputation on a global level. The programme draws attention to national bottlenecks, for example in legislation, which can then be improved. The know-how of companies serving e-residents, for example in international business and taxation, will certainly increase in the course of their work,” he noted.

In the last 18 months, the number of service providers presented in the virtual marketplace has doubled. Today, more than 60 companies are represented in the marketplace, according to Enterprise Estonia.

“The screen to reach the marketplace is tough – the team examines the service provider’s business behaviour, services offered, price range and other aspects. The prerequisite for entering the marketplace is also the existence of e-resident customers and a digitally signed letter of recommendation from at least two e-residents,” Vlassov said.

The largest number of companies in the marketplace provide virtual office services, followed by law firms and tax and financial advisers.

The programme has grown despite the coronavirus pandemic

The Estonian e-residency programme celebrated its sixth birthday on 1 December, and so far, it has brought direct economic benefits to the Estonian state of over €50 million, according to the programme.

“Since the previous birthday, more than 11,500 e-residents have joined the programme. The number of e-residents is already more than 75,000,” the programme announced.

The e-residency kit.

“The global pandemic has been a challenge for the whole world. In the light of COVID-19, Estonia’s decision to move public sector services to the digital world now seems particularly forward-looking and citizen-friendly – offering e-services and location-free business opportunities differentiates Estonia worldwide and enables successful business operations even in situations where people can’t no longer meet in person,” the Estonian minister of foreign trade and information technology, Raul Siem, said in a statement.

“I run my Estonian company long distance, because all Estonian public services are available in the e-environment. This is far from the case in most countries. During the movement restrictions imposed during the pandemic, it would have been very difficult for me to keep my company running without e-Residency,” Alagan Mahalingam, the founder of a company called Rootcode, noted.

E-residency helps people cope in the crisis

A survey conducted in April revealed that more than 61% of e-residents considered having the status of an e-resident and running a company long distance, tools that helped them cope better in the crisis.

The e-residency programme received more attention in the European Union in 2020, for example in Germany. Almost 4,500 German e-residents have already created more than 1,000 Estonian companies. Currently, the largest number of e-residents come from Finland, Ukraine, Russia, Germany and China. In total, e-residents have created almost 15,000 Estonian companies in six years.

The e-residency programme was created in 2014 with the aim of providing foreign citizens with secure access to the digital services of the Estonian state. With their digital identity card, e-residents can digitally sign documents and log into portals and information systems that recognise the Estonian ID card. E-residency does not grant citizenship, tax residence or a residence or entry permit to Estonia or the European Union.

Cover: The e-residency card of Bill Gates.

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