Lithuania's efforts to establish itself as an EU-friendly destination for global fintech firms has received a boost with news that Singapore's cross-border payments outfit InstaReM has chosen Vilnius as its base for a push into Europe.
InstaReM has scored an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) licence from the Bank of Lithuania and now plans to hire 25 IT and customer service specialists in the Baltic state by the end of the year.
Having seen off rivals including London, Lithuania will now act as the base for InstaReM's services in Europe and North America. The EMI licence will allow operations in the common market of the EU by passporting through the Sepa region, while InstaReM also plans to apply for a specialised bank licence early next year.
Prajit Nanu, CEO, InstaReM, says: "We made this decision after considering the flexibility of the Bank of Lithuania, the speed of the EMI licence issuance, the excellent specialists in the country’s labour market and, last but not least - the operational costs. Having taken all of these factors into account, we see that Lithuania is the most competitive country for fintech companies."
Lithuania is one of several places looking to woo fintech business in the wake of Brexit. The Bank of Lithuania has been active in re-shaping the country's regulatory framework to create a favourable environment for startups wishing to take advantage of EU passporting rights.
Initiatives such as one-week pre-approval for FCA authorised firms, a three-month wait for receipt of a full license and regulator-run API access to Sepa payments for non-banks, have already seen it attract a host of startups, such as Contis, Revolut and Wirecard to the country.
And last month, the Bank entered public consultation over the creation of a regulatory sandbox, which will provide companies accepted on the programme with access to simplified incorporation and licensing procedures, including the temporary lifting of some supervisory requirements.
Minister of Economy, Mindaugas Sinkevičius, says: "For several years, Lithuania has been working to improve the start-up ecosystem, providing more opportunities to young Lithuanian companies as well as rapidly growing new businesses from abroad. We have successful start-ups that have moved to Lithuania from neighbouring countries such as Russia or Belarus, but start-ups from Asia turn a new page in the history of the ecosystem."