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爱沙尼亚“电子居民”增速超过新生人口总数

其他国际资讯

爱沙尼亚“电子居民”增速超过新生人口总数

与许多欧洲国家一样,爱沙尼亚面临着生育率下降以及随之而来的经济压力。不过通过爱沙尼亚的电子居民项目,该国虚拟居民的增长速度比当地实际出生的人口还要多。

2014年,爱沙尼亚开始面向全球提供电子居住证。该项目包括政府签发的数字身份识别,并允许持有人在爱沙尼亚创办和运行虚拟企业。数字游民无需在爱沙尼亚拥有实体企业,便可享受银行账户和支付服务。但是,电子居住证并不是公民身份,电子居民在自己实际所在国家依然需要纳税。

对各方面都实现数字化的爱沙尼亚来说,这个项目可谓水到渠成。在国际货币基金组织发布的一个播客中,爱沙尼亚首席信息官Siim Sikkut表示,政府推行无纸化办公,因此,即使是最重要的记录和系统都存放在计算机服务器中。(该国同时还在卢森堡政府数据中心存有备份。)

Sikkut表示电子系统包括数字签名等内容,让政府系统更加高效,同时为企业家和政府节省资金。投票也实现了数字化,这样一来,爱沙尼亚人投错票后还可以进行修改。

Sikkut说道:"基本上你能想到的所有事情都能实现数字化,这已经渗透进生活的各个方面。"

申请电子居住证的人主要来自俄罗斯、乌克兰、日本和美国,通过电子居住证,企业家可以进入欧盟单一市场。甚至连日本首相安倍晋三也注册了电子居住证。此外,芬兰和德国也是电子居民的主要来源国家,这说明电子居住证的优势不仅仅是进入欧盟市场。

对于一些人来说,这可能很新奇,并且乐观地认为以后会更开放、边界更少。41%的申请者称自己在运行国际企业,不隶属于任何特定地点,还有14%的申请者宣称自己只是"喜欢电子居住证",申请者中31-40岁的人群最多,而且88%为男性。

爱沙尼亚人口只有130万,是欧洲人口最少的国家之一。因此,自1991年从苏联独立以来,爱沙尼亚政府数十年来一直努力在经济数字化方面超越其他国家。政府不仅为互联网宽带服务等投资提供支持,而且学校的学生从7岁起就开始学习编程。2003年发布的Skype,短短一个月时间就获得了100万用户,在爱沙尼亚也设有办事处。

爱沙尼亚的电子居住证项目目前有近45,000人参与,数量依旧较少,相当于在塔林五年一次的全国音乐节上歌唱民谣的人数。但是Sikkut表示,这个看似不多的人数依旧对爱沙尼亚造成了影响。虽然虚拟电子居民并不直接纳税,最终由国内企业负责提供金融服务或虚拟办公室。但是这个项目为爱沙尼亚的经济成功创造了很多工作,额外的收入也已经超过政府当初的投资。

Like many European countries, Estonia faces a falling fertility rate and the economic pressures that come with it. A bright spot, however, is its e-resident program, which has resulted in virtual residents growing faster than the Baltic country’s real-life, native-born population.

In 2014, Estonia started offering e-residencies, available to anyone in the world. The program includes government-issued digital identification and gives holders the right to start and run a virtual business in Estonia. Digital nomads can get access to bank accounts and payment services, while having a physical presence in Estonia is optional. It’s not citizenship, however, and e-residents still have to pay taxes where they are physically based.

The program makes sense in a country where just about everything has been digitized. Estonia’s government is paperless, so even its most fundamental records and systems are housed in computer servers, according to Siim Sikkut, Estonia’s chief information officer, in a podcast published by the International Monetary Fund. (The country maintains backups in Luxembourg’s government data center.)

Sikkut says the electronic systems, which include things like digital signatures, make bureaucracy more efficient, saving money for entrepreneurs and the government. Voting has also been digitized, which gives Estonians the leeway to change their votes if they make a mistake.

“Almost all things you can do digitally,” Sikkut said. “It has penetrated all aspects of life.”

Russia, Ukraine, Japan, and the US are among the biggest sources of applicants for e-residency, which gives entrepreneurs access to the European Union’s single market. Even Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has signed up. However, Finland and Germany are also at or near the top of the list of source countries for e-residents, which suggests there’s more to it than EU market access.

For some people it could be novelty, tinged with optimism about more openness and fewer borders. Some 41% who apply say they’re running international businesses that are independent of any particular geography, while 14% report simply being a “fan of e-residency.” The biggest age cohort for applications comes from people who are 31 to 40, and 88% are male.

Estonia’s population of 1.3 million makes it one of Europe’s smallest by that measure. So the republic, which attained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, has for decades looked to outpace the rest of the world when it comes to digitizing its economy. The government has backed investment in internet broadband service, for example, and students in the country’s schools start to learn coding at age 7. Skype, which launched in 2003 and scooped up 1 million users in its first month, has its roots there.

Estonia’s e-residency program, which has grown to around 45,000 people, is still small: it’s about the same size as the number of people who show up every five years in Tallinn to sing folk music at the national Song Festival. But Sikkut says the seemingly modest number still makes a difference for a country of Estonia’s scale. While the virtual e-residents don’t generate tax revenue directly, domestic businesses end up providing things like financial services or virtual offices. He says the program has successfully added jobs to the Estonian economy, and the additional revenue created already exceeds the money the government invested in it.


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