Interest shown by foreign companies in Lithuania’s financial sector nearly tripled
Data from the Bank of Lithuania’s Newcomer Programme shows that Lithuania remains among the most attractive jurisdictions for companies in the financial sector. Over 200 foreign companies interested in operating opportunities in Lithuania appealed to the regulator this year.
“The balanced development of the Bank of Lithuania and orientation to quality mean that more and more global financial companies are beginning to look at Lithuania. This shows that by raising the fintech sector to a higher level quality-wise, we are becoming more interesting for investors and continue to be among the most attractive jurisdictions in Europe,” says Lukas Jakubonis, Head of the Financial Market Development Centre of the Bank of Lithuania.
According to the data from the Newcomer Programme, this year 224 institutions interested in operating or seeking a license in Lithuania have applied to the Bank of Lithuania, which is almost three times more than last year. 305 written consultations and 75 meetings were held. A total of 81 companies applied to the Bank of Lithuania in 2021 and 108 in 2020. Most of the applicants were fintech companies or start-ups, although according to Jakubonis, the gap between fintech and traditional companies is slowly closing.
As of 30 November 2022, the Bank of Lithuania issued 56 authorisations during the year (licences or listings) and has remained one of the largest licensing countries in Europe. The recent interest in the opportunities to operate in investment service and credit markets is growing faster than the interest in the payment sector, which has the largest number of participants and is already the most competitive.
Lithuania continues to be at the forefront of the European Union in terms of the number of electronic money institutions. In Lithuania, there are as much registered companies as in Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Sweden and Germany combined. The Bank of Lithuania estimates that all financial institutions operating in Lithuania serve about 25 million customers. Preliminary data for the three quarters of this year for individual sectors show growth in different directions.
This year the central bank of Lithuania consolidated all functions related to the development of the financial sector into the Financial Market Development Centre. The Centre currently employs 15 experts of the Bank of Lithuania and its main task is to carry out balanced and sustainable development in the credit, capital, insurance and payment sectors, to administer the Newcomer Programme and to support the fintech community already operating in Lithuania.
This year the Financial Market Development Centre had about 170 live meetings with various financial sector companies (Newcomer Programme meetings excluded), 36 of which with commercial banks looking for new opportunities.
The Newcomer Programme, which aims to familiarise potential financial market participants with operating conditions in Lithuania, has been running since 2016. Over 750 participants from more than 70 countries have already benefited from the programme and almost one fifth have been granted licences.