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Taavet Hindrikus of TrasferWise: Estonia started rebuilding the nation in 1991. And we did things the smart way.

Estonia has become a leader in technology and innovation, but how? For Estonian-born CEO and co-founder of TransferWise, Taavet Hinrikus, the answer is in the past.

“We (Estonia) kind of started rebuilding the nation in 1991 after we became independent again. And we did things the smart way,” Hindrikus said talking to CNBC in an episode of Life Hacks Live.

Formerly a part of the Soviet Union, since gaining its independence Estonia has reinvented itself by modernizing and digitising many of its old analogue systems. Estonia’s digitalisation is highlighted in it’s e-identity programme, and e-residency initiative. Its e-identity programme has streamlined financial services and day-to-day tasks for the 98% of Estonians who have an ID card, and Estonia’s e-residency initiative offers foreigners the chance to become a digital resident of the country – all at the click of a few buttons.

“We did things from the beginning in the right way, setting up the right kind of structure in the economy. I think partially that’s thanks to the entrepreneurial tech success story, but also the government has some very smart people,” he said. “We’ve done many things digitally, we have the electronic government, and we have the e-Residency programme, so all of these things are now starting to prove that it means there’s much less bureaucracy, things are running much more smoothly, it’s cheaper to administer and it’s more pleasant for consumers; the residents of Estonia.”

Hinrikus also believes the success story of Skype, which was founded in the northern European country, is a pivotal chapter in not just Estonia’s digitalisation, but also its rebirth as a haven for tech start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Life Hacks Live with Taavet Hinrikus, TransferWise

He was Skype's first employee, advises the Prime Minister of Estonia and founded one of Europe's top fintech companies. Meet Taavet Hinrikus, the co-founder and chair of TransferWise, the startup transferring $1.3 billion around the world every month. #LifeHacksLive

Posted by CNBC International on 19. september 2017. a.

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