Bitcoin in the Baltic: Estonia Leads the Crypto-Friendly Region
Estonia, the origin country of Skype, has been a tech-friendly country, so it's no wonder cryptocurrency adoption is booming. Now, the Baltic state has become one of the hot domain destinations for blockchain startups.
The Baltic region has all the elements of a Northern crypto-paradise. While not as rich as Western Europe, the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have seen an economic boom in the last decade. Added to this is the widespread adoption of IT technologies, especially in Estonia. The mix of wealth and tech-enthusiasm is fertile soil for cryptocurrency projects, going beyond Bitcoin.
The reason for Estonia's attractiveness is the relative ease of opening a business. Access to the electronic government is extremely easy, and the expenses for opening a LLC are lower than $10,000. So quite a few projects will carry the OÜ extension, meaning LTD in Estonian. The Estonian registration may become something of a brand for blockchain projects, much like the .io (Indian Ocean) domains.
Mid-Range Mining Hub
Estonia and the neighboring states may yet take center stage when it comes to cryptocurrencies. The proximity to Russia, where draconian measures may once again be unrolled, may point the crypto-community of traders, businesses and creators to the Estonian market.
The region also has a relatively high concentration of Bitcoin full nodes, which strongly correlates with cryptocurrency knowledge and adoption.
Lithuania is the leader with 66 nodes, placing it in a group of crypto-enthusiastic countries like Ukraine (80), Poland (66) and the Czech Republic (65). Those statistics are behind the leaders with hundreds of full nodes, but still point to a strong position in the crypto world. Latvia has 16 nodes and Estonia just 10, but making up in other ways.
Lithuania also holds six Monero nodes (ahead of Switzerland) and three Litecoin nodes, and Estonia and Latvia have four Litecoin nodes each. Of course, nodes are not the full picture, but still the region is ahead of other countries and the spreading of cryptocurrencies and nodes may continue in the future.
Estcoin- An Experiment
Earlier this summer, the story of Estonia creating estcoin, an Ethereum-based token, made the rounds for a while. But Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, shot down the proposal, reminding Estonia that its official currency is the Euro. But Estonia still operates the e-residence program and there is no reason why blockchain tokens cannot be part of the solution in the future, as long as they do not cross over into the national currency territory.
And this means that anyone can build an e-residency and start a company, paving the way for startups. While Estonia has less than 2 million residents, the program may expand the "virtual population" of the country to more than 10 million. So even without Estcoin, the Baltic country may boost the blockchain sector and host new companies.
Estonia and the Baltic states also have one disadvantage that may turn into an advantage. The countries have an underdeveloped invetment and finance sector, like many former Soviet countries. So cryptocurrencies may open the door to fintech, trading and investment where traditionally established services are lacking.