Catalonia, which is fighting for independence from Spain, is considering an e-residency program similar to the one in Estonia. Catalonia is also considering adopting its own digital token or cryptocurrency.
The Government of Catalonia, the Generalitat de Catalunya, has sent representatives to Estonia to learn about the e-residency program, which offers a government-issued digital identity card that provides a way to operate a location-independent business online.
Dani Marco, the director of SmartCatalonia, an official Catalan agency, said the Estonians built a model of economic development from scratch. Marco appears to be heading Catalonia’s e-residency initiative.
Catalonia continues to move forward with plans to create an economy separate from Spain, according to El Pais, Spain’s leading newspaper. Estonia’s e-residency program serves as Catalonia’s model and could emulate an Estonian proposal to issue national blockchain based tokens.
El Pais reported that Catalonia is interested in Estonia’s e-residency program since the program has no borders. The e-residency program has attracted more than 20,000 entrepreneurs from 143 countries since 2014, including 336 from Spain.
El Pais further reported that Catalonia has the largest number of entrepreneurs and those working with virtual currencies in Spain.
Vitalik Buterin Weighs In
Blockchain experts in Catalonia have sought help from Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s founder, according to El Pais. Vitalik advised the Catalonians to create an ICO to offer a currency that would work in tandem with the financing of a business project for the virtual residence program. The e-residency ecosystem could create an economic community independent of a central bank.
Estonia recently proposed “Estcoin,” a national cryptocurrency. If the country follows through on this plan, it would be the first national government to launch an ICO.
Kaspar Korjus, managing director for Estonia’s e-residency program, posted a Medium blog in August claiming Estonia could offer Estcoins to residents. The coins could be managed by the Republic of Estonia, but accessed by anyone through the e-residency program. The program would launch an ICO to offer the coins.
Korjus also said the ability to start a location independent company is the main factor driving the growth of the e-residency program.
Estonia’s ICO In Doubt
CCN reported last month, however, that Estonia will not launch an ICO or become the first nation to adopt a state-backed cryptocurrency. An advisor to Sweden’s central bank told Business Insider that his office had confirmed with the Estonian central bank that they have no plans to launch an official digital currency
Since Korjus posted the proposal on the e-residency program website, an official government domain address that includes the official seal of the Republic of Estonia, many were led to believe the proposal has government approval.
Meanwhile, Mario Draghi, chief of the European Central Bank, criticized the Estonian proposal for a separate cryptocurrency, according to the International Business Times. Draghi said no member state can introduce its own currency since the Euro is the Eurozone’s currency
Korjus, however, told a recent GovChain blockchain event in London that Estcoins could serve as an EU-wide cryptocurrency or crypto token.
If startups can raise funds, why not governments, Korjus asked. There are currently 1.3 million e-residents in Estonia’s e-voting system.