Vilnius targets UK financial companies and startups in wake of Brexit vote

DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Vilnius, according to Forbes, is one possible attractive location for financial companies looking to relocate. Forbes writes that Lithuania, and Vilnius in particular, might be “moving step by step towards the favourable regulatory environment, good infrastructure and high-quality talent pool.”

In its recently published National Payment Strategy, the Bank of Lithuania revealed its aim to introduce more modern and easier payment methods. The bank has also been easing some regulations in an effort to attract companies to invest in and relocate to Lithuania.

Moreover, the bank has refined its license issuing process to ensure that applicants can receive their payment or e-money licenses within 3 months. According to Forbes, this is between 5 and 9 months less than in other countries considered to be friendly to fintech companies.

The Bank of Lithuania has ensured easier access to the SEPA payment infrastructure by providing institutions with national sorting codes for their IBAN accounts for their clients. It is also working on integrating with the European Instant Payments Initiative, which promises to soon enable instant payments throughout Europe.

The bank has been working to loosen regulation, but it will also be lenient with institutions that may be unfamiliar with them during their first year of operations in Lithuania. According to Forbes, the Bank, the State Tax Inspectorate, and 44 other Lithuanian institutions have pledged not to apply regulatory sanctions to companies that consult with regulators during their first year of operation.

Vilnius has also been rather receptive to the needs of financial institutions and startups: “Bitcoins, e-payments and other financial innovations are growing here fast. Even before Brexit we were building the city platform suitable for fast kick-off,” said Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius. Indeed, Uber’s launch in Vilnius took the company only 4 weeks. “Now, especially with Brexit in mind, we are even more focused making a fast track for fintech companies to establish and develop their products in Vilnius easy and risk-free,” he said.

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