Estonia is a small country in Northern Europe, located south of Finland, on the Baltic Sea from Sweden, just north of Latvia and just west of Russia. It is estimated that 1.3 million people view the country as home, making it one of the least populated member states of the European Union, the Eurozone, NATO, the OECD and the Schengen Area. The official language is Estonian, and the capital city, which doubles as the country's largest city, is Tallinn.
More importantly, Estonia is a global leader in digital governance and a founding member of Digital 5 (d5),a global network of leading digital governments. In fact, in December 2014, Estonia became the first country in the world to introduce the concept of e-session.
What Is E-Session?
As the name suggests, e-session is the program that allows foreigners to apply for a secure digital residence in Estonia, even if they do not actually live there.
How Does The E-Session Program Work?
People who earn the right to receive an E-session are given a digital ID card containing a special chip. This card allows them to use Estonian public and private sector services and resources, sign documents remotely and encrypt files.
The security and simplicity of Estonia's e-session program has become a success story all over the world. Media outlets circulated immediately after the program began, which allowed people to sign up to be aware of an official launch. Within 24 hours, people in 168 different countries signed up for official notification. Then, when the formal application process really started, more than 6,000 people applied.
While E-session is a new concept, it is not the idea of a government-issued digital ID card. In fact, Estonians have been using these cards for more than a decade. Because Estonia is often referred to as “e-Estonia” because of its technological advances, it made perfect sense to expand this digital identity service to the rest of the world. By spreading almost all public and private sector transactions to people in other countries, Estonia has created long-term value in the idea of secure digital identities, especially in terms of digitized Platform-as-a-service (PaaS).