With many European nations now easing out of lockdown, e-Residency, the Republic of Estonia’s digital ID scheme, today announces results from its survey into the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses. E-Residency polled 1,500 business owners, freelancers and e-Residents, and found that almost half (46%) have successfully pivoted their business or found new opportunities since the start of the pandemic. Almost half (48%) said it’s business as usual.

Despite the UK economy underperforming in recent months, the UK received 30% of all foreign direct investment into the European tech sector last year, setting up the economy for an increasingly digital post-coronavirus economy. E-Residency’s research found that almost a third of businesses (29%) said that the general economic turmoil caused by coronavirus is the biggest obstacle they are facing currently, whereas a quarter (25%) said their biggest concern was decreasing revenues due to the pandemic. On a scale of 1 to 10, around half of respondents ranked the impact of coronavirus on their business to be at an 8 or higher.

E-Residency is directly supporting the evolution of the digital economy in the UK by offering borderless working and giving UK businesses the opportunity to remain EU companies through becoming an e-Resident of Estonia. Their research has indicated that the pandemic has driven more demand towards becoming an e-Resident, with almost half of respondents (48%) saying that they were more likely to apply for e-Residency because of the coronavirus outbreak, due to the benefits of being more integrated into the digital economy. The majority of those who have not yet applied for e-Residency cite that they are still working on their business plans and ideas before applying (53%), as opposed to almost a quarter (24%) who said that they have postponed plans due to coronavirus. These findings are unsurprising given that worldwide lockdowns may have forced entrepreneurs to re-evaluate their existing business plans.

Siim Sikkut, the CIO of Estonia and co-founder of e-Residency, said: “The coronavirus pandemic will make the global economy even more reliant on digital services and solutions. Estonian digital services, like e-Residency, are at the forefront of this evolving digital economy. Estonia is a watermark case in digital transformation having a real impact on how society can handle even in times of crisis and work, do business, study and more all from wherever you are in the world. We believe that this crisis will be an opportunity for other countries to integrate digital governance and services into their societies, to increase overall economic resilience both during and after the pandemic.”

Ott Vatter, Managing Director of e-Residency, said: “There is certainly a dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over businesses at present, but there is a ray of sunlight. Our new research shows that businesses are being proactive and adapting to these new economic circumstances, and they are embracing digital services like never before. We believe that digital ID services like e-Residency could be an easy way for companies to integrate into a digital ecosystem, and by becoming an e-Resident those companies who have been hit hard by the pandemic have an opportunity to grow into markets across the EU in which they may not have had a presence in. This is especially the case for companies in locations that are still restricted by lockdowns like the UK.”

Vicky Brock is an e-Resident and the founder of Vistalworks, a start-up that has developed consumer protection software. She said: “E-Residency has been instrumental in helping me expand my business into the European market. If we weren’t e-Residents, we would have had to set up a physical presence in Europe, which would have been impossible with coronavirus lockdowns throughout Europe, and would have been extremely costly. We’re proud to be an e-Resident and are looking forward to all the opportunities it will enable for us in the future.”

E-Residency’s research also made the following findings:

•52% said provide information about potential economic relief measures

•29% said help marketing their product or services

•17% said share tips about working from home and running a business remotely

•15% said 1:1 business consultations

•61% said to start a location independent company registered in Estonia

•19% said because they are a fan of the Estonian digital society