I was able to find the Marketplace story (technically that’s APM not NPR) that you were talking about. The Estonian “E-Ambassador” discussed the program:
“E-residency is basically a government-guaranteed digital identity,” explains Siret Schutting, Estonia’s e-ambassador. “We are allowing foreigners to acquire what every Estonian already has: a digital signature. This means they can securely sign documents online. It’s legally the same as a handwritten signature.”
A direct benefit now is that it allows foreigners to start a business “in” estonia.
“You can open up a bank account, start a company, run a company, all that stuff," says Taavi Kotka of the Ministry for Economic Affairs. "We’re aiming to sign up 10 million e-residents. That would give a big boost to the Estonian economy. More customers for our banks, for telecom companies ... for everybody.”