e-Residency
e-Residency
Case Study

e-Residency

Editor-in-Chief

Laura Del Vecchio

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© wpadington @ stock.adobe.com

Unbound by offline territorial borders, this "virtual passport" is digitally assembled, enabling anyone, anywhere in the world to apply.
Unbound by offline territorial borders, this "virtual passport" is digitally assembled, enabling anyone, anywhere in the world to apply.

The last 200 years have brought about a decline in poverty and enhanced overall living conditions. The majority of these improvements are the result of universal education and technological advancements, as well as improved models of governance. However, across borders and even through different layers of our respective cultures, not all participants in our global society equally benefit from these updates.

The word nation has been synonymous with the term nation-state. In other words, a nation-state stands for the legal constitution of cultures that were defined and confined by both geographical borders and legal systems. However, with the advent of the internet, post-geographical communication networks and decentralized legal systems emerge to alter this scenario.

e-Residency

This type of virtual document does not grant citizenship in the traditional meaning of the word, nor does it substitute travel papers. E-residents may have online access to specific services. As a transnational identity, this virtual residency is government-issued, which enables e-residents to use business tools offered by the government. E-residents can also enjoy a legal framework that provides insurance, compliance, and stability, especially since policy changes are accessible online.

Services include banking, taxation, enterprise formation, signatures for official documents, in addition to mandatory bureaucratic obligations such as electronic applications, documentation, annual tax filings, or government reports. The only "offline" requirement for this type of business is to have a local contact person in the country of e-residency. But this requirement is being met through agencies that provide legal addresses and a local contact person for e-resident entrepreneurs.

As the number of digital location-independent enterprises rises, entrepreneurs look for ways to meet their needs without the bureaucracy of their countries of residence. This digital identity allows business owners to set up and fully manage enterprises online from anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection. It has begun to spark a generation of "digital nomads," location-independent entrepreneurs or employees that opt against living in one specific place, choosing instead, to travel anywhere with a stable internet connection to run their businesses.

At the moment, the only country providing e-residency it is Estonia. Though following its extended success, other countries may offer their own type of digital services. However, from a regulatory standpoint, there are many difficulties when trying to open a company with business partners of differing nationalities. From this difficulty, opportunities may arise, such as new transnational businesses resulting from this new wave of young professionals looking for digital common ground.

Identification meets Blockchain

As a result of this movement, blockchain-based initiatives that operate in Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) systems are helping develop the concept of decentralized nations, which are accessible and free for all regardless of when and where they were born. These experiments are building a governance framework focused on the individual, using decentralized identity solutions such as the Blockchain Digital Identity, to allow people to participate within the ecosystem by voicing their viewpoints and making transactions in trusted settings. Moreover, due to the lack of physical features, the very architecture of this network-powered system presents innovative judicial possibilities that include arbitration courts and shared Smart Contract guidelines.

In addition, this model could be a significant shift towards developing a more humanitarian solution to future refugee crises. By providing an identity to the stateless, decentralized networks may build a future environment that allows citizens to thrive in both their personal and professional lives.

Stepping into the Future: World Passport

The concept of World Passport consists of a document provided by nonprofit organizations that rely on the human right to travel to give undocumented people actual papers. In a globalized world, we face an increasing degree of convergence between nations in terms of economic thinking and technique. However, this could be seen as an exception, since other fields still haven't followed this path. Politics, for instance, is still organized primarily based on nation-states, with the passport being the document that represents national sovereignty and control.

That control works both for citizens within a nation and all others who are outside. It means that all nations would instead collude with a system of travel control than support freedom. Despite the growing number of restrictions, people have not stopped or reduced their nationalized border crossings. In fact, it is precisely the opposite: today, people are traveling abroad more than ever.

The United Nations Population Division estimates that there is an annual average of 200 million international migrants. In addition, there are almost 10 million stateless people who have been denied nationality and, therefore, denied access to fundamental rights such as education, healthcare, employment, and freedom of movement because of their civic condition. In this sense, considering that freedom of travel is one of the essential marks of the liberated human being, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the very acceptance of a national passport is incoherent in our globalized era. Developing a World Passport is, therefore, a neutral and potential travel identification that challenges conventional ideas about borders and nationalities.

More than 750,000 people have registered to obtain a world passport, which is issued by the World Service Authority (WSA). Many of the applications come from refugees or those who are not able to obtain official documents from their own countries. The WSA has also given out thousands of free passports to people in refugee camps.

Creating a world passport, therefore, could be an efficient solution for refugees, one that would allow stateless people to make a new life by changing their legal status. It would redefine equality by positioning it as a relationship among co-members of a global society and not one among national citizens. There is a great deal of discussion and debate within the emerging politics of the No Borders movement. Still, it has been demonstrated that the social division perpetuated by borders is critical when people are characterized as “citizens,” “immigrants,” “refugees,” and so forth.

Forthcoming Implications

In the coming decades, we might see new identification documents that will implement the fundamental human right of freedom of travel. With that, the identity document of a global citizen would not be attached to a geographic region, but work in recognition of universal rights: of movement, livelihood, and full and equal societal membership.

If this concept becomes widely accepted by nations, it might change our very core identities, following the trend towards easy and fast access to air travel and the digital nomadic lifestyle. It would allow future citizens to move where and when they please, regardless of the migratory restrictions in place nowadays.

In the perspective of emergency immigration like in the cases of refugees, the e-Residency based on Blockchain Digital Identity could be a simplifying and cheap solution for the host nations. The entire make-up of governments and borders could change as people move from place to place in search of a better life. How differently might a world without nationally-bound diplomatic identities look?

8 topics
Anti-Corruption & Standards of Integrity
Decentralization & Local Governance
Digital Governance and Society
Displacement and Migration
Employment and Labour Markets
Political & Social Participation
Public Administration
Rule of Law
3 SDGs
10 Reduce inequalities
08 Decent Work and Economic Growth
16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

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3 industries
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8 topics
  • Anti-Corruption & Standards of Integrity
  • Decentralization & Local Governance
  • Digital Governance and Society
  • Displacement and Migration
  • Employment and Labour Markets
  • Political & Social Participation
  • Public Administration
  • Rule of Law
3 SDGs
  • 10 Reduce inequalities
  • 08 Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions