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The United Nations announced today that it will start working with the digital residency platform created by Estonia in an effort to make starting a company easier for entrepreneurs in developing nations.

Dubbed “e-Trade For All,” the new program was unveiled today in Geneva, where it was also revealed that Alibaba founder Jack Ma would serve as an advisor for the program.

Estonia has gained international attention with its e-Residency service, part of a larger government initiative that has made the small northeastern European nation one of the most digital-friendly spots around the world. Anyone can pay a small fee and receive a secure digital identity issued by the government, which can in turn let them rapidly do things like establish a business, sign contracts, and open bank accounts for sending and receiving payments.

This program has now been embraced by the U.N.’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to support the e-Trade initiative.

In a blog post, UNCTAD noted Ma has predicted that 90 percent of all business will be conducted online within the next 30 years. But regions with poor government and banking infrastructure risk being left behind as entrepreneurs in more developed areas launch the businesses that will dominate.

Going forward, as UNCTAD works with entrepreneurs around the world, it will help them register for Estonian e-Residency, according to the press release.

“Small businesses shouldn’t need to wait to integrate themselves into global trade,” said e-Residency program director Kaspar Korjus. “Why not support these entrepreneurs, while at the same time helping entire countries overcome infrastructure deficiencies?”


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