Liechtenstein intends to position itself as a key player in the global digital economy. Daniel Risch, Minister of the Economy, explains the government’s agenda.
Liechtenstein has received significant international attention in recent years for its growing blockchain industry. The government’s favorable stance towards blockchain-friendly regulations has played a key role in the development of the still-nascent industry. In particular the Blockchain Act, which will come into force this month, has attracted an armada of international companies and startups to the small alpine nation.
However, there is more than the Blockchain Act. The Liechtenstein government has taken a strategic approach to building a functioning digital ecosystem. Daniel Risch, Liechtenstein’s Minister of the Economy, has provided insights into the government’s long-term plans and strategy in an interview with Netzwoche.
Liechtenstein approaches digitalization as a long-term trend
Risch explains his views that digitalization is not a short-term phenomenon but a long-term trend that will impact society and the economy for the coming decades. Therefore, governments need to have a long-term strategy instead of aiming for short-term success stories.
Risch says, “Digitalization is not something you either participate in or you don’t. It has also not just been happening since yesterday and it won’t go away again tomorrow. For us, digitalization is a driver of innovation, which is key for our economy, education, and administration and we are making a consistent effort to be a leading player.”
Liechtenstein is a nation of entrepreneurs, explains Risch. There is one company for every eight inhabitants, which is a high ratio when compared to other countries. That’s why it’s so essential for Liechtenstein to create a functioning business environment. As blockchain offers excellent potential for all kinds of businesses, Liechtenstein has chosen the technology as a particular focus area of its digital agenda.
Digital focus areas: infrastructure, legislation, and cooperation
When asked about particular focus areas in Liechtenstein’s digital agenda, Risch emphasized the build-up of needed infrastructure. This year, for example, 50% of all households in Liechtenstein will have a fiber optic cable connection.
Another key focus of the government is creating a legal framework for businesses to operate efficiently. The Blockchain Act is one example. Legislation is one factor that has given Liechtenstein a competitive edge over its neighbors.
Moreover, the government wants to facilitate the interconnection of the economy, science, and politics. Risch mentioned the initiative Digital-Liechtenstein, a platform for digital innovation which aims at promoting the build-up of a digital economy in Liechtenstein.
E.government: When industry 4.0 meets administration 1.0
Compared to other nations, Liechtenstein is relatively progressive in terms of e-government. However, Risch also admits progress has somewhat slowed down recently, “It could always be a bit better. If industry 4.0 meets administration 1.0, we will have a problem. If you ask me how up-to-date we are today regarding the digitalization of our administration, I would say we are at administration 2.0. However, we are driven to improve on this front.”
Digitalization ultimately has to benefit the user, says Risch. It needs to create added value for citizens. At this point, Liechtenstein is building a digital authentication solution and intends to streamline its administration to create smooth end-to-end processes for its citizens and businesses.
When asked about Switzerland, Risch, who worked in Switzerland’s digital industry for many years, believes the two countries have much in common. However, he also emphasized that Liechtenstein has an advantage over its neighbor due to its membership in the European Economic Area. He also says Liechtenstein’s small size and simplified structures make it an excellent location for technology companies.