Republic of Estonia has welcomed two famous new e-residents in the recent weeks: Pope Francis and Bill Gates. Pope Francis was presented with his own digital ID card by Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid during his visit to Estonia and Bill Gates was gifted with e-Residency digital ID by Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in Brussels.
His Holiness is the first Head of State to receive e-Residency, although other Heads of Government to receive e-Residency are Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Luxembourgish Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. The primary reason at present that people around the world become e-residents however is to overcome barriers to entrepreneurship and create a trusted, location-independent company that they can establish and manage online from anywhere.
With e-Residency, the Republic of Estonia is helping democratise access to entrepreneurship globally. The programme even joined forces with the United Nations for an initiative called eTrade For All, which aims to help more people in developing countries access e-commerce. Like e-Residency, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is based on equalising access to opportunities around the world.
Kaspar Korjus, Managing Director at e-Residency, said “We all wish His Holiness a very warm welcome to our digital nation. It’s a huge honour for us that he has accepted to become e-resident and thus they will stay with us both in spirit and digitally long after physically leaving our country. Of course, we don’t expect Pope nor Bill Gates to start another company using e-Residency. But providing influential friends of Estonia with e-Residency is an invaluable way to help them learn more about our digital nation and raise greater awareness of how Estonia is helping improve the world using new technology and new ways of thinking.”
Arnaud Castaignet, Head of Public Relations at e-Residency, said “For us, the fact these world leaders became e-residents is a great endorsement and acknowledgement of how advanced and innovative Estonia’s digital society is. It is also a great support of the values of our programme such as inclusion, transparency and empowerment of individuals. e-Residency raises interest internationally, so we are more than happy to see that it’s now an important part of Estonia’s soft power and diplomatic relations.“
Apart from these Head of State and Government, other notable people are e-residents: for instance, British journalist Edward Lucas, American businessman and VC Tim Draper, Trevor Noah, Host of The Daily Show, Jean-Jacques Dordain, former Director General of the European Space Agency, among others. In India, among notable personalities who have appreciated e-Residency programme and have been bestowed with e-Residency are Minister of Electronics and Information Technology – Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad and Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries – Mukesh Ambani.
All the dignitaries who are e-residents can now use the digital ID card to verify their identity online, digitally sign documents, and access Estonia’s public and private e-services from anywhere in the world.