Estonia proposes ‘estcoin’ cryptocurrency with government-backed initial coin offering

Building on the back of its popular e-residency program, Estonia is now looking to offer its own cryptocurrency, proposing the world’s first government initial coin offering.

The so-called “estcoin” initiative was pitched this week by Kaspar Korjus, managing director of e-residency in Estonia. If the proposal becomes a reality, people would be allowed to invest in a country for the very first time.

In a concept codeveloped by ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, Estonia believes estcoins could incentivise investors to support the success of the nation in an entirely new way. Officials say estcoins would enable the government to invest in new technologies and innovations for the public sector, citing smart contracts and artificial intelligence as possible areas of interest.

Some of the funds could also be used as a community-run venture capital fund on behalf of investors. The fund could be used to support Estonian companies, including those founded by e-residents of the nation.

A small Baltic country with a population of just 1.3 million, but it plans to have many more e-residents over the next few years.

The e-residency program allows entrepreneurs to receive a secure, government-issued digital identity, which then enables them to establish their business and open a bank account. The services are provided for just a €100 filing fee and background check.

Available in a public beta phase, it has helped entrepreneurs in 137 countries around the world, drawn the attention of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, and even inspired both Singapore and Jamaica to model their own ID programs after Estonia. The prospect of continuing to do business in the European Union has also appealed to Britons in the wake of Brexit.

To Estonian officials, estcoins are a logical extensions of the successful e-residency program. In time, they believe estcoins could be accepted as payment for both public and private services, eventually becoming a viable global currency.

For now, interested parties can sign up at the e-residency website to receive more information about the estcoin proposal. If there is enough support, officials plan to provide a white paper outlining the value of estcoins and how the investment will be used in development before proceeding to an ICO.