Lithuania is actively courting UK fintech and blockchain start-ups who want to retain the EU single market access in the event of a hard Brexit.
The establishment of Europe’s first international Blockchain Centre in capital Vilnius solidifies Lithuania’s lead in the field of digital and fintech innovation.
“There is a growing recognition in Europe that Lithuania has gained an edge in financial and digital innovation. There is a natural desire amongst local government and industry to embrace the latest in blockchain technology,” says Paulius Kuncinas, Chairman of the newest Blockchain Centre in Vilnius that prides in high profile partnerships with centres in Melbourne and Shanghai.
Here in Lithuania we are pulling out the stops to bring the world’s top blockchain talent, ideas, investors, and regulators together to create value for both private and public sectors,” says Kunčinas. “As part of this effort, Blockchain Centre Vilnius is already in touch with the UK start-up community, regulators, and potential adopters of blockchain technology.”
A state-of-the-art coworking and shared office space for blockchain start-ups, Blockchain Centre Vilnius will connect key stakeholders on three continents. It joins partner Blockchain Centres in Melbourne and Shanghai.
Blockchain Centre Vilnius Founder and MEP Antanas Guoga, better known in the digital community as “Tony G,” calls the UK “a natural partner for Lithuania when it comes to finance and innovation.”
“London already hosts the largest pool of Lithuanian talent working in IT, innovation, finance, and technology. As UK companies and entrepreneurs consider their next move in light of Brexit, Blockchain Centre Vilnius is offering a globally-networked blockchain hub and a friendly regulatory environment. It goes with the overall positive attitude of EU institutions, which are ready to embrace blockchain technology,” says Guoga.
The global network of Blockchain Centres incubates and accelerates blockchain start-ups while sharing information about new blockchain opportunities with investors and businesses alike. Their mission: to unlock economic and social value by applying blockchain technology to business, finance, and public administration.
Lithuania was selected by the Australian and Asian blockchain community as the network’s first location in Europe due to its political and economic stability, EU and Eurozone membership, and favourable business and regulatory environment. Only a few weeks ago, Lithuania’s official development agency Invest Lithuania signed a landmark fintech innovation agreement with the Singapore Fintech Association.
“Lithuania is capitalising on its stable jurisdiction and early commitment to innovation in finance and technology. Our country has everything going for it to become Europe’s blockchain leader,” emphasizes Mantas Katinas, head of Invest Lithuania. “‘Best in the EU’ in the field of superfast licensing, direct access to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), and strong institutional support make Lithuania the best point of entry for EU and non-EU fintech.”
At the heart of these developments is a Central Bank that has embraced fintech innovation, and a recently instituted “start-up visa” that makes it easier to attract and retain top talent from non-EU countries. The Central Bank of Lithuania is taking a positive and proactive stand with regard to fintech companies, offering fast and efficient licensing as well as a one-year sandbox environment for new fintech companies. E-signatures are widely utilised and accepted, and on boarding can even take place remotely via online video calls. Lithuania is already number one in Europe in fibre-optic penetration and boasts one of the world’s fastest internet networks, which makes doing business online efficient and convenient. Establishing a company takes just three days. Lithuania’s regulators look favourably on the emerging technology and are open to giving progressive tech companies direct access to SEPA.
The Blockchain Centre Vilnius Board and Investor Committee, which will help raise funds for blockchain start-ups, have already attracted such leading lights as Lon Wong, President NEM.io (Singapore), leading Australian artificial intelligence expert and data analyst Eugene Dubossarsky, and Sonic Zhang, Founder of ValueNet Capital.
Blockchain Centre Vilnius, based in a brand new riverfront office building just minutes from the Old Town Vilnius, will open its doors on January 27, 2018. The Centre welcomes inquiries, especially from start-ups, investors, and journalists.