Estonia says it won’t issue a national cryptocurrency and never planned to

Finance news

Estonia said Monday it is not planning to launch a national cryptocurrency and that it never planned to do so.

A government spokeswoman said the Baltic nation was not looking to issue its own national cryptocurrency as it already uses the euro as its official currency.

Instead, Estonia plans to “explore various possibilities” for blockchain technology, such as the use of crypto tokens within its “e-residency” program, which gives both Estonians and foreigners a digital form of identification.

Last year, Kaspar Korjus, managing director at Estonia’s e-residency program, announced the proposal for a cryptocurrency called “estcoin” that could be issued by Estonia. Korjus said at the time that the estcoin tokens could be launched through an initial coin offering (ICO) — a form of fundraising for start-ups where new digital tokens are sold to raise money.

Estonia joined the euro zone — a bloc of countries that have adopted the single currency — in 2010, becoming the first former Soviet nation to do so.

Initial reports of Estonia’s interest in cryptocurrency sparked a reaction from Europe’s central bank chief. Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, said that “no (European Union) member state can introduce its own currency.”

Triin Oppi, Estonia’s media adviser, disputed a report by Bloomberg that claimed the country had “scaled down” plans to launch a cryptocurrency. She said such plans “never existed.”

Oppi said that the e-residency program had “initiated a discussion” into whether Estonia should issue its own cryptocurrency and that the estcoin proposal was still on the table “within the e-residency community.”

She said that the Estonian government was considering the possibility of providing a legal framework for ICOs, similar to a proposal from Japan.

“We strongly believe in the potential of blockchain technology as a tool for economic development, empowerment and inclusion and we notice that several private and public institutions worldwide are also exploring its opportunities,” Oppi told CNBC in an email Monday.

“Estonia already has a vital start-up sector and we are looking for various initiatives to make it even stronger. One possible avenue is to explore possibilities to provide, within EU legislation, clear guidelines for companies that want to conduct ICOs legally and responsibly.”

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