Estonian Government Partners with Bitnation to Offer Blockchain Notarization Services to e-Residents

Bitcoin Magazine
Estonian Government Partners with Bitnation to Offer Blockchain Notarization Services to e-Residents

In May, Bitcoin Magazine reported that blockchain-based Governance 2.0 initiative Bitnation is developing a collaborative platform for DIY Governance based on the blockchain.

“Bitnation is a Governance 2.0 Operating System, designed to disrupt the nation-state oligopoly through offering more convenient, secure and cost-efficient governance services,” said Bitnation founder and CEO Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof.

Bitnation is one of several emerging initiatives to empower connected global citizens with a growing range of options to bypass legacy governance systems based on nation states. The e-Residency program launched by the government of Estonia is another such initiative.

The program offers anyone, anywhere, a digital identity issued by the Estonian government and the possibility to start and operate a business online under Estonian regulations. The foreigners who become e-residents of Estonia are not automatically entitled to physical residency in the small Baltic state, but they can base their online financial life there.

Estonia, a country at the forefront of modern e-government, has been offering efficient online services to its citizens for more than a decade.

“By offering e-residents the same services, Estonia is proudly pioneering the idea of a country without borders,” proudly states the e-residency website. In particular, e-residents can digitally sign, verify and encrypt documents and contracts, establish an Estonian company online in 24 hours with a physical address in Estonia provided by an external service, and administer the company from anywhere in the world.

Currently, establishing an Estonian bank account for the company requires one in-person meeting at one of the banks that recognize e-resident smart ID cards – currently LHV, Swedbank and SEB – but once the account is established e-residents can manage e-banking and remote money transfers from anywhere in the world.

An appealing feature of e-residency for entrepreneurs is that, in Estonia, company income is not taxed. Therefore, compliance is simplified and all income is available for re-investment. However, since e-residency doesn’t imply tax residency, e-residents are supposed to pay taxes at home for the money that they take out of the company.

Now, the Estonian government is partnering with Bitnation to offer a public notary service to Estonian e-residents based on blockchain technology.

“Via the international Bitnation Public Notary, e-residents, regardless of where they live or do business, will be able to notarize their marriages, birth certificates, business contracts, and much more on the blockchain,” states a joint press release.

“I’m delighted to work with Estonia’s e-residency program to set a standard practice of competition of governance services on a global market, and to enable others to exercise self-determination and follow Bitnation’s path to sovereignty,” said Tarkowski Tempelhof in the press release.

“The Republic of Estonia is on the forefront of innovation when it comes to e-governance,” Tarkowski Tempelhof told Bitcoin Magazine. “They’re mostly young and open-minded, eager to test new technologies to improve their services. Additionally, their processes are quite streamlined, which is original for being a government, and needless to say, very refreshing.”

If a couple gets married on the public notary, it doesn’t mean they get married in the jurisdiction of Estonia, or in any other nation state jurisdiction, notes the press release. Instead, they get married in the “blockchain jurisdiction.”

International Business Times notes that, besides marriages, blockchain technology can provides a worldwide legally binding proof of existence and integrity of contractual agreements for things such as banking, incorporating companies quickly and cheaply and generally empowering entrepreneurs and citizens around the world.

“In Estonia we believe that people should be able to freely choose their digital/public services best fit to them, regardless of the geographical area where they were arbitrarily born,” said e-Residency Program Director Kaspar Korjus. “We’re truly living in exciting times when nation states and virtual nations compete and collaborate with each other on an international market, to provide better governance services.”

In fact, the importance and potential impact of the Estonian government’s move shouldn’t be underestimated. Here we have the government of a nation state, a full member of the European Union, acknowledging a virtual nation as a legitimate partner for the development and gradual implementation of next-generation governance services.

“My aim is to see a world where hundreds of thousands or millions of governance service providers in a free global market competing through offering better services at a better value, rather than through the use of force within arbitrary lines in the sand,” Tarkowski Tempelhof told Bitcoin Magazine. “To that end, seeing nation state governments starting to provide governance services on a free global market as well, like The Republic of Estonia, is encouraging, and a step in the right direction. Now we need more nation state governments, as well as open source protocols joining the global market.”

Tarkowski Tempelhof added that, realistically, it’s more likely that small nations will adopt the technology in the short term.

“Countries and city states that come to mind are Singapore, Lichtenstein, Andorra, etc.,” she said. “We’re also likely to see nations in the developing world leapfrogging in terms of governance technologies.”

Photo Steve Jurvetson / Flickr(CC)

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Netki Launches Google Chrome Extension to Simplify Bitcoin Wallet Addresses

Netki, a service aimed to simplify bitcoin payments, has officially released a beta of their Google Chrome browser extension, allowing customers to use email-esque Wallet Names such as ‘wallet.justin.me ‘ instead of lengthy 32 character public addresses. Netki users can now enter their Wallet Name anywhere on the web, and the extension will automatically replace the name with the appropriate public wallet address. They currently support bitcoin, litecoin, dogecoin, Factom (Factoids and entry credits), and Ether, among others.

Their new extension will allow Netki users to maintain their anonymity and save time across nearly any web-based blockchain application, including wallets such as Coinbase, Blockchain, and Uphold, exchanges like Kraken, Bitfinex, and CEX.IO, and other applications such as Fold and Purse.io.

The extension is available for free on the Chrome Web Store. And while an individual Wallet Name is available on Netki’s website for as little as $1.95 a year, ChangeTip users are given one for free. If you’d like to try the extension, sign up for a ChangeTip account on their website, navigate to the ‘Tips’ tab on the top left of the page, and activate your personalized Wallet Name by clicking on the personalized URL under the ‘Tip.me Page’ header on the left side of the page. Your new Wallet Name will be tied to the deposit address for your ChangeTip account, which you can use anywhere on the Internet with the new extension.

Netki, started in 2014 and described by many as the “DNS for Bitcoin,” has already partnered with companies such as ChangeTip, Gem, and Snapcard, whose users are automatically registered and given a personalized Wallet Name.

However, their ambitions are much larger. Wallet Names will allow individuals to remain ‘pseudo-anonymous’ on the public blockchain, mitigating serious privacy concerns for those whose real-world identities become associated with single, static public addresses.

In addition, Netki also built in support for Hierarchical Deterministic or HD Wallets, which allow users to automatically create a unique public address for each transaction related to a single Wallet Name. HD Wallets, when combined with Netki’s Wallet Name, can help individuals maintain anonymity on the blockchain without the hassle of managing dozens of public addresses.

Netki CEO Justin Newton also hopes their new extension, combined with individualized Netki Wallet Names, will allow new users to more easily understand and use bitcoin online.

“We are excited to release this Chrome extension as it now allows users to send using Wallet Names at all web-based blockchain and bitcoin services.,” Newton said. “This is a significant step forward in the usability of blockchain technology to ensure easier mainstream market adoption.”

The post Netki Launches Google Chrome Extension to Simplify Bitcoin Wallet Addresses appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Slush Pool to Re-Enable BIP 101 Bitcoin Mining

Slush Pool, a Czech-based Bitcoin mining pool accounting for 6 percent of hashing power on the Bitcoin network, indicates it will re-enable connected miners to vote for a block-size increase through BIP (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal) 101. Slush Pool was the first mining pool on the Bitcoin network to allow miners to vote for BIP 101, but recently suspended this option due to sustained DDoS attacks on its servers.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Slush Pool operator Marek Palatinus said: “We’re strengthening our infrastructure and we plan to enable BIP 101 mining again.”

The block-size dispute might reach a critical juncture over the next weeks, with the upcomingScaling Bitcoin workshop in Hong Kong in the first week of December, and the stated intent of several prominent Bitcoin companies to change their code to allow for bigger blocks that same month. As such, Bitcoin miners (and pools) might be faced with an important decision as to which code they will support.

Palatinus said that the effort to re-enable miners to vote for bigger blocks is unrelated to this “December deadline,” however.

“We’re not focused on December with our decision, but we still think the block-size limit should be increased,” Palatinus explained. “Sometimes there are already blocks full of valid transactions, and there’s not any particular reason why user experience with bitcoin transactions should be limited because of an arbitrary limit of 1 megabyte.”

He added, “We’re close friends to Paralelni Polis, the first – and only? – bitcoin-only cafe and co-working space, located in Prague near our offices. We have real-world experience with day-to-day bitcoin transactions of common users. We also see issues related with transactions not going through the Bitcoin network and how it affects bitcoin acceptance. For this reason we consider this an urgent issue.”

BIP 101 – which is implemented in alternative Bitcoin implementation Bitcoin XT – is programmed to increase the maximum block size to 8 megabytes if a threshold of 75 percent of mining power accepts the change. Once activated, this limit is set to double every two years. Much like before, however, Slush Pool does not intend to force connected miners to vote for a BIP 101 block increase with their hashing power. Instead, individual miners will be given the option to cast such a vote if they want to.

“We personally hope BIP 101 will be adopted, but we do not want to enforce BIP 101 mining on our pool,” Palatinus said. “We believe in open discussion and democracy. For this reason we want to tell our miners about all options, explain their pros and cons, and let them individually decide by their mining vote.”

BIP 101 has received criticism within the Bitcoin development community, the main concern being that its exponential growth curve might lead to oversized blocks. While an increased block size would allow for more transactions on the Bitcoin network, “Decentralists ” fear that oversized blocks could further centralize mining and full nodes – in turn, potentially harming Bitcoin’s censorship resistance.

Palatinus, however, believes the risks of BIP 101 are being exaggerated, explaining:

“Improved block compression solutions will be able to vastly decrease the risk of oversized risks in regard of centralization of mining. Additionally, Bitcoin’s blockchain file is impractically big for common use already. Normal users don’t run Bitcoin Core anymore, because there are many other easier and more user-friendly solutions for managing bitcoin than Core. For those who want to have a full copy for any reason, there won’t be a much bigger difference.”

Finally, Palatinus added that Slush Pool is open to alternative block increase proposals, too.

One alternative block-size proposal that has been gathering support is an incremental increase to 8 megabytes over four years time. Proposed as a temporary solution by Blockstream CEO and hashcash inventor Dr. Adam Back, this “2-4-8” option seems acceptable to a significant segment of the Bitcoin Core development team, as well as prominent industry members.

When asked by Bitcoin Magazine about the 2-4-8 quick fix, Palatinus said: “This will only move the same discussion to the future, not solving the real issue. However as a temporary solution – possible.”

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