During the CEE17 SME Banking Club Conference in Krakow (November 23-24, 2017), Elina Räsänen (Head of Marketing at Holvi) presented a digital business account to e-residents launched by Holvi last year within the E-Residence program in Estonia.

Here we publich key takeaways from Elina’s presentation.

E-residency – a new digital nation for global citizens

  • Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency, a government-issued digital ID available to anyone in the world;
  • E-Residency offers the freedom to easily start and run a global business in a trusted EU environment.

So, anyone around the world can apply to become an e-Estonian.

The benefit when you become an e-resident is that you can also easily establish an EU-company without ever going to the EU or Estonia.

In practice this means that as an e-resident you can operate anywhere. Let’s say you are a freelancer in Columbia and you want to sell in Europe. You need an easy way to sign documents with your European vendors, a bank account that you can operate in euros, and a certain kind of reputation. So, with e-residence you can open an EU company and a bank account in the EU without ever having to step foot in the EU. It is a revolution because we can give an equal access to everyone around the world to banking and the chance to run a business. So, it’s as easy for Swedish designer as for a Columbian designer to run their business in the EU, a global business without borders.

Our core product is the bank account – a current digital business account for entrepreneurs and attached to Mastercard. And that’s the foundation of what we do. On top of that we have built management tools for entrepreneurs. So, an entrepreneur can:

  • Invoice customers
  • Do bookkeeping
  • Carry out online sales

And everything is integrated into the account. It’s a one-stop-shop for finance. From a business perspective, you can collect income, pay your expenses and manage your finances. Full cash-flow management for business is what we are aiming to do, not only banking but end-to-end financial relationships for our customers.

What e-residents need to get a Holvi account

When you become an e-resident, you get an e-Resident ID Card and the ID Card reader, so that you can attach it to your computer. Our systems are integrated with this, so to verify your identity we only need the ID Card and your passport: color photo, name page. And the next doc Business registry extract from Estonia which confirms that your business is officially in Estonia. That’s it! The process of opening an account takes only a few minutes. The verification process takes from one hour to one day at most. Normally, you are operational within the next business day and fully verified to run your business.


Olena Gryniuk: Estonia’s target is to have 10 mln e-residents in seven years. How many have already registered and how many are using a Holvi account?

Elina Räsänen: I think until last month or so, it was 27 thousand e-Residents. Of course, 10 mln is a very bold goal to achieve. E-Residence has been possible for three years, so we will see big growth coming from there. Out of 27 thousand e-Residents about 5 thousand have registered a company. At the moment, at Holvi we have about 25% of all e-Residents who have a business. This is still a very new partnership and the figures are still quite small, but we see huge potential, and this is a very strong channel for growth for us in terms of customer acquisition.

OG: There are two other banks that offer current accounts to e-residents – Swedbank and LHV bank (Estonian bank HQ in Tallinn). How is Holvi different?

ER: These banks still require a visit to Estonia to open an account, so that’s not an e-Residence friendly option if you have to travel from Bangladesh to Estonia to open the account. This is the biggest difference. And then of course, Holvi is not only a bank account, it also offers other features. So our customers, also e-Residents, can use an online shop and start selling online. They gain contracts with Visa, Mastercard, many local bank partners and American Express, for example.

OG: What is the cost of servicing a current account in Holvi?

ER: In Holvi we have two models. Basically, we are subscription-based banking. Normally our fee is 8 EUR per month, which includes the account, card, invoicing and bookkeeping. For e-Residence, we have a larger package for 35 EUR. The reason is that this is new territory for us and what happens in the background – verification, fraud prevention and things like that – are something that we are learning and that means more expenses for us. So, the cost for an e-Resident is higher than for our other customers who register in Germany, Austria or Finland.

The second model is a transaction model, when you get an account for free, but then you just don’t get a card, and you can carry out transactions for 50 cents.


Photo, video: SME Banking Club


Read previous interview with Elina Räsänen