Digital Nation Stack

Metropolis
6 min readMay 10, 2023

Welcome to Planet Earth. According to the rules of our currently installed Civilization 1.0 operating system, you will be randomly assigned to one of our ~195 service provider districts that will define your experiences and opportunities here, such as when and where you can travel, healthcare options, the kinds of currencies you can use, what you can and cannot do, and you will never be able to switch providers, with rare exceptions. This system has been well established since the precedent was set 375 years ago and shouldn’t be challenged. Don’t ask too many questions about it, or we will have a talk with your service provider. Enjoy your stay and good luck!

If the world had an honest welcome kit, this would be an important piece of information to share with new users. However, most people don’t even have the chance to question such a system, and even if they do, the system is so ingrained that getting inertia for anything different than the status quo is a massive uphill battle.

8 billion people around the world are currently restricted to government services from their home country, without any options to switch their “service provider”. You are randomly assigned one of these providers at birth via the “geographic lottery” and are locked into it for a lifetime. We believe this is limiting and that there should be more alternatives to step out of this paradigm, starting with a more open and geography-agnostic system, that provides a parallel set of services that people can opt into regardless of their results in the geographic lottery. We are developing a “Digital Nation Stack” ecosystem to support this vision.

We envision this Digital Nation Stack as an ecosystem of Universal Government Services and digitally native products that allow all global citizens to access essential services, underpinned by a set of legal and technological innovations that make it possible. e-Government projects like e-Estonia have pioneered this sector, allowing e-Residents to access multiple services like corporate registration and others using X-Road, a unified infrastructure for e-Government. That has been a landmark program in the civic technologies industry, and we aim to build upon these sorts of successes and to create new programs that are universally available across partner jurisdictions via a neutral, country-agnostic platform, aka a Digital Nation Stack. Once the core components of this stack are developed, they will be available to global citizens and participating countries alike, creating a new era of competitive governance and of mobility and opportunity for people who were once forever consigned to the country of their birth. Right now that mobility is less than 1% of the planet’s population due to extreme switching costs and other forms of friction introduced by existing providers. But what would happen if we could smoothen the pathway enough to get that number to 5%? To 10%? The world would be forever changed.

Read below to see our outline of the core components of this nascent digital nation stack ecosystem we are developing both in-house and with a network of partners.

Identity

Identity forms the foundation of this ecosystem. Users can create a unique digital identity (let’s call it “Metropolis Passport” as a placeholder) that serves as the entry point for the range of available services. This universal identity can begin with vetting and allow users to bridge their old world “FIAT” identity into a new digitally native passport that serves as their proxy in the digital world and will grant them authenticated access to a digital nation or community. Once a user is verified and has their identity, they should be able to access services as themselves through a digital portal.

Corporate Registration

Registering and operating a corporation are fundamental activities for free enterprise and economic development. We are proposing a digital incorporation system that leverages best-in-class legal structures around the world by reference, and serves as a new legal and technology framework built for the 21st century, providing maximum flexibility to global citizens for future entity formation, as well as universal compatibility across jurisdictions that adopt this standard. Privacy protection will be maintained for business owners while complying with international business laws and creating opportunities for greater cross-border trust in business transactions. This system is being developed and we aim for it to be adopted in sovereign nations around the world.

Digital Currencies & Digital Banking

People and businesses need access to financial services, and digital banking has advanced tremendously in the past decade. Using their identity credentials, users should be able to open bank accounts from the convenience of their homes. Whether for a personal account or a newly formed corporation, we believe that this process should be streamlined so that banks can quickly approve users and enable them to access global financial services from wherever they are around the globe. We envision an ecosystem of partners supporting such services, from the world of stablecoins, cryptocurrencies, traditional FIAT banking, and everything in between.

Land & Asset Ownership

Land and assets should be able to reflect their ownership digitally through a simple easy-to-use portal. Once legal user identities have been established, they can access opportunities to invest in real estate and other assets. A digital nation stack should offer an integrated solution that enables users to purchase an interest in a given property, and track all transactions such as property taxes, assessments, HOA fees, etc. By creating an interactive portal for monitoring updates related to these assets, owners will have more flexibility in how they manage these assets, whether they are on-site or just keeping an eye on things while abroad. In cases of fractional ownership, owners should have visibility on any property updates, management fees, and any other transactions related to the property, ensuring maximum transparency for all.

Charter Zones & Governance

A zone tailored to leverage these digital platforms can leapfrog traditional systems by transparently linking ownership to identity. Special Economic Zones or Charter Zones can implement policies to recognize digital ownership of real-world assets such as plots of land or residences. Imagine being able as a new resident of a zone to have access to all your property information from a single dashboard. Based on your ownership of assets in a charter zone, you would receive commensurate voting rights and a role in ongoing governance, ensuring all stakeholders have a voice in the direction of the zone. As these charter zones evolve into charter towns and even charter cities, we expect these voting and governance mechanisms to evolve alongside them.

Closing Thoughts

Developing this unified ecosystem offers the opportunity to create a meta-community or “Digital Nation” that can emerge from a global network of users who will access this parallel set of services and can even populate charter zones, or physical geographies that adopt some of the tenets of the broader digital nation community.

By creating more options for global citizens and an open marketplace for services, we will expand the user base and create healthy competition among jurisdictions to attract this growing network of digital citizens. Our goal is to build this global community, deliver on this ecosystem of services, and ultimately develop real-world enclaves where digital nation residents can settle. We believe this alternative system (let’s call it “Civ2”) coupled with tangible real-world residency will reduce friction for cross-border mobility and produce a net benefit to enhance the lives and opportunities for millions around the globe, while paving the way for a fundamental shift of the relationship dynamic between “service providers” and their citizens. Perhaps one day we can even update the welcome kit for Planet Earth so people can choose from hundreds or even thousands of providers. We think THAT would be a wonderful system.

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