Disruptive Innovation: Estonia Will Do To Citizenship What Uber Is Doing To Taxis

from The Ladder

A term that seems to be thrown about in the technology sphere, and indeed in the mainstream press these days is ‘disruptive innovation’. It’s the thing that every start-up, entrepreneur and venture capitalist strives towards. In the never-ending quest for convenience, consumers wholeheartedly buy products and services that save us time. So, when Uber came along and started providing a quicker and more efficient way to hail a taxi, the only people who properly objected were the cabbies themselves.

With the growth of the internet, distances are shrinking, the level of consumer choice is many times what it was twenty years ago, smartphones have made computing truly ‘mobile’ and information is largely free (providing you have an internet connection, of course). This creates an environment where disruptive innovation can happen very easily, as communication is both simplified andenhanced.

I read an article recently about how Estonia, a tiny European country of just over 1.3 million people, is pioneering digital citizenship. Every Estonian over the age of 15 is given a smart ID card, which they can use for thousands of online services like booking doctors appointments, online banking, online shopping, paying parking fines and voting. Every new-born baby is given a digital birth certificate – it’s easy to see that the country takes the idea very seriously.

While this is brilliant in its own right, even more brilliant is the fact that anyone in the world can apply for ‘e-residency’ in Estonia. Called ‘satellite Estonians’, these people are not full residents, but (among other things) they are able to set up a business in the country and hold a fully verified ID card (which is used to access the web securely). The ID makes doing business online safer, quicker and more convenient.

More here.

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