17 Mar 2017

Lithuania wants to host UK’s payment institutions in Vilnius

Lithuania is willing to issue payment licenses for all claiming companies that possess similar licenses in the United Kingdom, according to sources from the Baltic country. If it becomes official, the proposal is going to be discussed by the companies’ management teams.

The Lithuanian regulator has proposed to issue payment licenses using a fast-track procedure. This means that if there will be a hard Brexit and no deal with the European Union officials, a UK payments institution will be able to continue operating in the EU. UK-EU negotiations failing is a possibility that financial sector managers want to minimise, as much as possible. Lithuania comes to satisfy their need for stability.

Lithuania has modernised its laws significantly. At the end of 2016, the Lithuanian parliament adopted a law on remote identification of customers, which until now, only existed in the UK. Using remote identification enables a payment institution to open accounts for customers without their physical presence. This means that the customer doesn’t have to visit the institution’s offices like the traditional banks require.

The new law enables payments institutions to conduct anti money laundering (AML) procedures remotely, using all electronic means and in digital format. This way, a client will have to provide some basic ID scans, accompanied with a small interview, using platforms such as Skype, in order for the company to acquire all required data. The client will save a lot of time that would be needed to provide certifications and send it back to the company.

The new law that was voted in Lithuania, facilitates and accelerates all procedures and can be used as a strategic advantage for payment institutions, that are based there. In a very competitive market, a client will be able to open a new account in just an hour, using all the modern technology.

Sources in Vilnius say, that the regulator is proposing a fast-track procedure concerning the issuing of licenses. Its target will be to provide full Authorised Payment Institution (API) licenses in a period of 3 to 6 months. It must be noted, that in some competitor countries, the procedure can take up to a year.

Lithuanian officials see an opportunity to attract British companies to their capital. There is a real possibility for that, since no one in London knows how the negotiations with the EU will turn out and everyone wants to have access in the single market.