The Estonian Government has signed into law regulation allowing both residents and e-residents to open bank accounts without having to visit a bank.

Applicants’ identity will be matched against their e-residency data and records from the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board through real-time video.

“We will make opening a bank account easier and faster for everybody, including e-residents”, said Sven Sester, Estonian Finance Minister.

“We want to make things more convenient, but also maintain the security necessary in the financial sector. The IT solutions that make it possible to identify people from a distance have existed for some time. Allowing for them to be used when bank accounts are opened certainly makes sense”, he added.

Interviews will also be conducted through video, and banks can use this to assess their clients’ risk profile. This includes assessing their background, origin of financial resources and purpose for establishing a business. The video recording will subsequently be kept and archived.

Previously, citizens had to be present physically to open an account in a financial institution. The new regulation took effect from 1st November, but leaves banks with the right to demand a face-to-face identification with their clients.

“The bill was drafted in close collaboration with private sector financial institutions and banks, which helped to set out as state-of-the-art and safe principles as possible,” Sester said.

Estonia is one of the most digitally advanced nations in the world. To attract businesses, it has opened up a digital residency scheme where foreigners can apply to be an e-resident of the country, which has led to a 2 percent increase in new businesses.