Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) on Wednesday shared Estonia's experience with digital identity at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and discussed ways the public sector can set an example to inspire innovation and the implementation of new technologies.
"E-services require a trustworthy and safe way to identify users," Mr Ratas said. "For 20 years, Estonia has been building its digital society and e-services to simplify the everyday lives of our citizens. In addition to signing documents, we use digital identities to file income tax returns, vote digitally, conduct day-to-day banking transactions, and purchase medication." Trustworthy digital identification has facilitated Estonia's innovation and entrepreneurship, he added.
The prime minister also spoke of e-residency, which has enabled entrepreneurs worldwide to utilise the e-services offered by the state as well as Estonian enterprises. He noted that the number of e-residence is growing rapidly, already exceeding 50,000 people in 168 countries.
As for opportunities to advance innovation in Europe as well as worldwide, Mr Ratas sees several options.
"Everything begins with providing high-quality education," he said. He also noted that the government must ensure an entrepreneurial environment that encourages innovation. "Legislation has to keep up with rapid technological development, whether this means self-driving cars or artificial intelligence," he stressed.
Estonia and other countries' digital success stories should also be more widely reflected in Europe in order to help develop the European single market and strengthen the region's competitiveness, he added.
"In the face of rapid technological changes, we must rely on our strong suits — common values and cross-border cooperation," Mr Ratas said. "A more efficient European single digital market requires a strong digital identity, jointly combating cyber threats, and, of course, supporting the free cross-border movement of data."
Estonian experience discussed at one-on-one talks
Mr Ratas on Wednesday participated in a World Economic Forum media event focusing on innovation in Europe. He also gave a presentation on digital identity at a press conference organised by the McKinsey Global Institute and the World Economic Forum, where the former also introduced its fresh report "Digital identification: A key to inclusive growth."
Advancing cooperation on information technology and sharing Estonia's experiences with the e-state were also discussed at bilateral meetings between Mr Ratas and Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, President of Colombia Iván Duque Márquez, and President of Paraguay Mario Abdo Benítez.
The Estonian prime minister also discussed opportunities for increased cooperation with the heads of Apple, Uber Technologies, Booking.com, Ericsson, and the World Economic Forum Centre for Cybersecurity.
Editor: Aili Vahtla