Estonia is known as a digital nation, and for a good reason, as almost all of its state services are available to entrepreneurs at their fingertips. However, using these services can be challenging as they are spread out across different ministries and institutions and seem fragmented to users.
“Many people don’t know just how many state services there are,” said Tiina Kruusimägi.
Kruusamägi is leading the Digital Gateway project of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to make all state services relevant to entrepreneurs accessible via one portal.
One place for all
According to Kruusimägi, the ministry started the project in 2020 to address the fragmentation issue and the amount of time it takes users to find relevant information and learn about potential funding opportunities.
The envisioned Digital Gateway platform will include a company data card, including all data contained in national registries. There will also be a national mailbox that will consolidate all communication with the state in one place.
Kruusimägi said that the ministry is also developing a solution for fixed-term obligations to enable entrepreneurs to get an overview of the obligations set by the public sector, like submissions of annual reports and related information, including deadlines, activities necessary for the fulfilment of obligations and the current status of them. Therefore, the platform will allow all entrepreneurs to align with all state obligations within one environment.
Also planned are a centralised authorisation, role, access management system, and a means to make information on financing opportunities available to companies, including information regarding deadlines or the status of applications.
According to Kruusimägi, the Digital Gateway will also provide access to services related to company employees, enabling entrepreneurs to obtain aggregate information and to access service environments from a single window, where the information and service offer is structured.
All previously mentioned projects are included in the portal development roadmap, the implementation of which began last year and will continue through 2025.
Millions of euros saved
According to Ulvi Tallo, founder and partner at Grow Finance, one of Estonia’s largest accounting firms, such a Digital Gateway is a welcome addition to Estonia’s digital ecosystem. Tallo said that managing authorisations within a single environment would be helpful to all company representatives who need to share rights and all offices representing companies that need to delegate them. In the current situation, she noted, new authorisations are often required each time a representative needs to access a new environment.
“There are a lot of instances where such permissions are necessary,” said Tallo, “such as the Tax and Customs Board, Statistics Estonia, the Social Insurance Board, the Centre of Registers and Information Systems (RIK), and other places,” she said. “Currently, when you have an accountant, she has to go through each one of those websites and gain authorisation, so this is complicated and takes a lot of time.”
Tallo noted that the Association of Estonian Accountants, of which she is an active member, has calculated that the labour cost required to manage access “can be measured in millions of euros per year today.”
Therefore, for accounting firms like Grow Finance, the ability to manage authorisations via the Digital Gateway will be an improvement. She added that for Grow Finance’s foreign clients, being reminded of their obligations to various state authorities in one environment will also be helpful. “All of these changes they are making are important,” Tallo said.