The Baltic eurozone, with a population of about a third of that of London, is now number one in the EU in fintech with more than 230 companies, according to government agency Invest Lithania.
About 20 of them have ties to Britain. One of the first to choose Lithuania after Brexit was Revolut, the London-based online trading company.
“Lithuania is currently a hub for our European operations after Brexit,” Virgilijus Mirkes, CEO of Revolut Bank in Lithuania, told AFP.
“We opened our Vilnius office in 2017 after considering the fintech-friendly business environment,” he said, noting the rapid licensing process and the existence of qualified staff in the country.
Invest Lithuania estimates that the fintech sector has more than 4,000 employees in this country, an increase of over 18% last year.
“Fintech companies started looking for alternatives in the EU during the Brexit transition period and Lithuania became one of their first options,” says Yekaterina Govina of Lithuania’s central bank.
The Vilnius authorities state that they can process applications for authorization in up to three months, faster than any other member state of the Community bloc.
The Central Bank of Lithuania has granted a total of 118 licenses for fintech companies that can operate anywhere in the EU, far more than Germany (77) and France (76), according to a report by Invest Lithuania.
However, the United Kingdom remains by far in first place in the ranking with 610 licenses.
The Vilnius Central Bank has also created a regulatory “protected area” – a framework for fintech companies to test innovations.
“This has served as a beacon for companies looking for a remedy for Brexit,” Govina said.
Although the capital Vilnius does not offer the same attractions as London and for now it is a challenge to get to the city due to pandemic restrictions, internet speeds in Lithuania are good and the country has a skilled tech workforce.
Revolut has around 200 employees in Lithuania and the CEO of the company’s local subsidiary says it will continue to expand its operations in the Baltic country.
Another London company that recently opened its doors in Lithuania is DiPocket Group, which recently developed an e-wallet application.
Fedele di Maggio, CEO and co-founder of DiPocket, says that “Brexit has certainly been the determining factor”.
In addition, the local workforce “generally speaks English and has realistic financial expectations,” adds di Maggio.
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