Vilnius - Hot on the heels of issuing of the Europe’s fastest e-money (EMI) license to the numerous global tech companies, Lithuania has announced it will host Europe’s first international Blockchain Centre. The Centre’s mission: to unlock economic and social value by applying blockchain technology to business, finance, and public administration. A state-of-the-art coworking and shared office space for blockchain startups, Blockchain Centre Vilnius will connect key stakeholders on three continents. It joins partner Blockchain Centres in Melbourne and Shanghai.
The Centres incubate and accelerate blockchain start-ups while sharing information about new blockchain opportunities with investors and businesses alike: “Are we ready to meet the new top standards of transparency and security of the revolutionary technology? Lithuania steps in by offering a globally represented blockchain hub and enabling regulatory environment. All European countries can take an advantage and unlock the potential of this technology in various sectors. It goes along the overall positive attitude of the European Union institutions, which are ready to embrace the technology”, says the initiator of the Blockchain Centre Vilnius, member of the European Parliament, digital entrepreneur Antanas Guoga, in the blockchain industry better known as Tony G.
The Blockchain Centre Vilnius Board and Investor Committee, which will help raise funds for blockchain start-ups, have already attracted such leading lights as prominent fintech and cryptocurrency expert Jon Matonis, leading Australian artificial intelligence expert and data analyst Eugene Dubossarsky, Lon Wong, President of NEM.io (Singapore), and Sonic Zhang, Founder of ValueNet Capital: “Blockchain Centre Vilnius is a unique opportunity for blockchain investors, start-ups, and regulators to share ideas, know-how, and best practices worldwide through our two partner Centres in China and Australia. They are ready to make Lithuania their gateway to Europe”, emphasizes Chairman of Blockchain Centre Vilnius, Europe and Asia based entrepreneur Kunčinas.
According to Kunčinas, 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. Few weeks ago, government-backed business advisor Invest Lithuania and Singapore FinTech Association signed a landmark financial technology (“fintech”) innovation agreement: “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, CEO of Invest Lithuania. “Best in EU superfast license issuing, direct access to SEPA and strong institutional support make Lithuania the best point of entry for the EU and non-EU Fintech”.
At the heart of this new development 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 has adopted 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 onboarding 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 the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) system. The 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.