In Lithuania we found a fintech-friendly and fast regulator, as well as excellent international-grade talent. With all this, Lithuania is hands-down the best European base for cutting-edge fintechs.
Based on the recently released Lithuania Fintech Report 2017, a total of 117 fintech companies were operating in the country in 2017, with 35 of them being registered last year. The overall number of startups grew by nearly 43% year-over-year. According to Invest Lithuania, a co-author of the Report, the reasons behind choosing Lithuania were multifold: a growing talent pool, hassle-free regulation, flexible banking infrastructure, and the ability to access half a billion customers in Europe.
Fintech-friendly regulator opens gateway to Europe
One of the main advantages Lithuania can offer foreign companies are the keys to the entire EU market. Coincidentally, according to the Lithuania Fintech Report 2017, 96% of all fintechs in the country see Europe as their target market. What sets Lithuania apart from other potential investment destinations inside the EU is a significantly narrower timeframe required to get licensed.
“We were looking for a perfect HQ location in the EU,” claims Prajit Nanu, co-founder and CEO at InstaReM, a Singapore-based startup that came to the country in 2017. “In Lithuania we found a fintech-friendly and fast regulator, as well as excellent international-grade talent. With all this, Lithuania is hands-down the best European base for cutting-edge fintechs.”
Fintech operations are regulated by the Bank of Lithuania. CENTROlink – the Bank’s payment system – levels the field for non-bank institutions, offering them the same terms for payments as banks and credit unions. CENTROlink allows companies like Revolut, Contis Group and InstaReM, among many others, not only to reach 34 SEPA countries with ease, but also to issue IBAN accounts without any middle-men involved.
„The fintech market is very dynamic, and the players are aggressive, so being the first to implement an idea is an invaluable asset,” Mantas Katinas, Managing Director at Invest Lithuania, believes. „Lithuania can offer startups from non-EU countries access to the European market faster than other EU members.”
Setting up shop in Lithuania provides InstaReM and other companies from non-EU countries access to a 512-million-strong market and more than 23 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Registering a company takes merely three days, while getting a Payment Institution or Electronic Money Institution license takes only three months, 2-3 times faster than in other EU jurisdictions. Other perks include remote Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures, low profit tax, startup visa options and sandbox regime for fintech startups in their first year.
The Baltic country is also on the forefront of the blockchain revolution. It already hosts Europe’s first international Blockchain Centre, connected to counterparts in Shanghai and Melbourne. In addition to that, in a year’s time Lithuania will offer a first-of-its-kind blockchain sandbox platform. The service codenamed LBChain will be one of the factors, increasing the number of blockchain startups in the country.
After my first visit to Vilnius I just felt that this city is a small version of Silicon Valley and this was absolutely unexpected. The city, its infrastructure, the prevalence of technology made an impression on me.
Nearly 2000 people employed by the sector already
Being a small country, Lithuania can boast a high number of IT professionals that can be potentially employed by the fintech sector. According to the country’s Statistics Department, there are around 31,500 IT specialists in Lithuania, with 8,800 more in the pipeline. Foreign language proficiency is also one of the country’s strong suits, with 84% of young professionals proficient in English – the industry’s lingua franca.
„After my first visit to Vilnius I just felt that this city is a small version of Silicon Valley and this was absolutely unexpected,” Jared Isaacman, CEO of point-of-sale payment solutions company Harbortouch, shares. „The city, its infrastructure, the prevalence of technology made an impression on me.”
According to the Lithuania Fintech Report 2017, Lithuania-based fintechs vary in size, with a third already having teams larger than 10 people. With nearly 2000 people employed by the sector, the country can accommodate more due to its flexible talent pool, replenished by fresh graduates, repatriating Lithuanian specialists and a constant stream of skilled workers coming from outside of the EU. The country’s authorities try to make relocation from outside of the EU as simple as possible. The government has recently approved of a Startup Visa for entrepreneurs. Established companies can benefit from the EU Blue Card program for highly-skilled non-EU citizens.
About the report
The Lithuanian Fintech Report 2017 was prepared by, the country’s official Foreign Direct Investment and Business Development agency Invest Lithuania and Rise Vilnius, a Lithuania-based fintech startup hub with a wide international reach. The report features data collected from 117 fintechs operating in Lithuania, 80 of which submitted answers to an extensive questionnaire. You will find the complete report here: Lithuanian Fintech Report 2017