Estonia presses forward with own cryptocurrency plans

The booming cryptocurrency market is set to get a nation-backed new entry that could change the face of the technology as we know it.

The Baltic nation of Estonia has revealed it is set to continue with plans to launch its own version of Bitcoin, known as Estcoin, backed by the country's government.

The news follows an initial coin offering (ICO) for Estcoin earlier this year which helped establish the country as a new hub for innovative digital initiatives. Estonia was also recently hailed for the launch of an e-residency program which allowed people to benefit from a wealth of online services - even if they did not live in the country.

Recent research from Deloitte revealed that e-residents have already brought €14.4 million to Estonia in just the first three years of the program, a figure predicted to rise to €1.8 billion by 2025, equivalent to a return of €100 for every €1. 

However rather than being a Bitcoin competitor, Estcoin would now look to be a "crypto-token", which would encourage more people to adopt e-residency, which saw a major spike in interest following the ICO.

"Much of the criticism of estcoin was based on the fact that Estonia simply can’t start its own cryptocurrency even if it wanted to," Kaspar Korjus, managing director of the country's e-residency programme, wrote in a blog post.

"Estonia’s only currency is the euro and this is an essential feature of our EU membership, which we are proud to have. No one here is interested in changing that. That’s why we have always referred to estcoin as a proposed "crypto token'."

Korjus added that Estcoin could be used to carry out a range of e-residency functions, such as signing documents.

"E-residents would receive a certain amount of tokens that are personal and attached to their digital identity and can then purchase more when required. This would not raise any revenue for Estonia, but merely contribute to the maintenance of the network. In fact, everyone would save money as a result of this proposal," said Korjus.