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7.84 Rather Enabling Environment
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Since 2017, Estonia has been one of the most frequently used jurisdictions for the registration of cryptocurrency companies and making ICOs. During the first six months of 2018, some EUR 245.6 million was invested in Estonian startups, which is only EUR 26.5 million less than the entire amount of investments for the year 2017. In Estonia, many well-known crypto startups are registered, for example, the Hashflare cloud mining company comes from Estonia. Adex, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, Mothership, HashCoins and Eloplay are all registered in that country. Estonia was among the most favorable countries in the world for ICOs.
Estonia is particularly fond of the blockchain technology, using its applications in the number of arear (medical records, e-voting, public administration, etc.). Supported by the Estonian government's e-Residency and Public Notary programs help businesses in registering a company, working with banks and paying taxes on-line. Estonia is a very progressive jurisdiction for digital business, and cryptocurrencies are already perceived by the state in a fairy friendly way. The national cryptocurrency Estcoin has been considered at a high level for a long time, however, the idea was slammed by President of the European Central Bank.
Rather Enabling Political Environment
Estonia views the blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies as the one of the priority dimensions for state development. The Estonian authorities actively introduce blockchain technologies into public administration. The positions of the top political figures are essentially coordinated: they demonstrate their friendly attitude towards the blockchain and the crypto industry, but they understand the risks and seek to minimize them by applying legislative measures.
Startups and the business community have repeatedly noted that the country's regulators are approachable and cooperate with founders easily, including as far as cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects are concerned. As long as a business follows the country's rules, Estonian regulators are quick at helping them set up a business in the country.
Rather Enabling Legal Environment
Regulatory Convergence In Estonia, there is no comprehensive legislation specifically designed to regulate blockchain and cryptocurrency relationships. Regulation of relations is not within the jurisdiction of a single authority. Regulation of relationships pertaining to cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects is the responsibility of the Estonian Parliament, the Ministry of Finance and the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority (EFSA), the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit (EFIU). The positions of Estonian regulators are consistent, there are no serious contradictions.
Definiteness of Legal Regulation In Estonia, there is no comprehensive legislation regulating all of the areas of legal relationships related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. At the same time, cryptocurrencies ("virtual currencies") were officially defined in the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act 2017 (MLTFPA). Clarifications are also offered by specialized agencies with respect to the application of the current legislation to the relations associated with cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects. There is a clear position of the regulator regarding ICOs and cases, in which tokens can be recognized as securities. Rules for the exchange of cryptocurrencies and their acceptance as payment for services and goods are defined and adopted. These arrangements ensure legal certainty for representatives of the cryptocurrency industry to benefit from and enable them to conduct business in that country. Profits from cryptocurrency-related operations are treated as profit from business activities, both the profit tax and the social tax can be charged on such incomes. Mining of cryptocurrencies is defined as a financial transaction that is exempt from the VAT.
Stability of Legal Regulation Estonia has repeatedly expressed its wish to contribute to the development of crypto business in the country, including by improving, simplifying and specifying legislation in this area. As of the second half of 2018, Estonia already has fairly progressive legislation in this field. Actually, Estonia is not planning changes or novelties in its legislation on blockchain projects and cryptocurrencies.
Adequacy of Legal Regulation Legal relations associated with cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects are adequately regulated in Estonia.
Situation with the Rule of Law Estonia has high indicators of the rule of law, ranking 12th in the world among 113 countries. The conditions of the legal regulation of blockchain and cryptocurrencies are rather favorable, and since the values of the sub-criterion of the rule of law are high (0.80), the amount of the difference between weighted (multiplied by Rule of Law Index score) and unweighted assessments are not significant. This indicates low risks associated with the general conditions of compliance with legal safeguards in Estonia.
Enabling Infrastructure Environment
Estonia ranks 16th among 193 countries in the UN GlobalE-Government Development Index.
Furthermore, Estonia has a very high score of doing business conditions, ranking 12th in the world.