EMI License in Lithuania
In the fintech world, the year 2023 has necessitated operational efficiency improvements and a sharpened focus on market needs which the Lithuanian fintech ecosystem has responded to with remarkable agility. The country’s proven economic resilience, openness to innovation, and other significant advantages have kept it a highly sought-after destination for obtaining fintech licenses, including an electronic money institution license (EMI). Today, Lithuanian-licensed payment institutions serve about 25 mill. customers throughout the EU, representing roughly 10% of the adult population within the union. It’s evident that a Lithuanian EMI license continues to be valued as the key to building a sustainable e-money business in the EU and internationally.
To have a smooth EMI license acquisition experience and fully avail yourself of the benefits a Lithuanian e-money license has to offer, you should seek guidance from trusted EMI license advisors. Our team here at Regulated United Europe has over six years of experience in helping fintech businesses launch their operations in the most favorable European jurisdictions. Whether you’re a startup or an established business, we’ll be delighted to guide you through such processes as applying for an EMI license or acquiring a ready-made company with an EMI license in Lithuania. Reach out to us directly for a personalized EMI license consultation or, for starters, read this comprehensive article to get a general idea of what a Lithuanian EMI license entails.
How to Buy a Ready-Made Company with an EMI License in Lithuania
If you envision an e-money business that requires a swift entry into the Lithuanian or European market, we suggest you acquire a ready-made company with a fully functional EMI license. While the duration of the acquisition varies based on such factors as the complexity of the acquisition, negotiations, and any unforeseen issues, we’ll ensure that at least all legal matters are completed in the shortest possible time.
Acquiring a fully operational e-money institution involves several key steps:
- Conducting thorough due diligence on the EMI’s history, compliance, and legitimacy
- In many cases, obtaining approval for the acquisition from the Bank of Lithuania
- Proving that you possess the required financial resources and competence to run an EMI in compliance with the regulatory framework
- Negotiating terms, agreements, and any modifications
- Finalizing contracts, legal documentation, and transferring ownership
EMI License Offer in Lithuania
What Is an EMI License?
An Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license is a legal authorization granted by regulatory authorities that primarily permits a financial institution to issue electronic money within a specified jurisdiction or region. Electronic money is a pre-paid monetary value issued into circulation and held on electronic devices, which can be used for payment purposes. In addition to the issuance and storage of e-money, EMIs can provide a variety of other financial services. It’s worth emphasizing that without this license, engaging in any of these activities could result in legal consequences and regulatory penalties.
By becoming an EMI license holder in Lithuania, you gain permission to conduct a wide range of activities:
- Issue electronic money
- Store electronic money on customers’ behalf
- Issue payment instruments (e.g., prepaid cards, virtual cards) that facilitate electronic payments
- Facilitate the transfer of funds domestically or internationally
- Enable customers to authorize payments directly from their accounts
- Issue payment cards for transactions
- Facilitate secure online payments for goods and services
- Offer currency conversion services for customers conducting transactions in different currencies
- Provide payment account services, including account management and transactions
- Process electronic payments, including processing transactions on behalf of merchants or other payment service providers
- Offer e-money services tailored to businesses, such as payroll services or bulk payments
- Provide payment initiation service (PIS) which entails initiating payment transactions directly from the customer’s bank account
- Provide account information service (AIS) which entails accessing and aggregating financial information from various bank accounts or financial institutions in one consolidated view
While EMI licenses hold significant importance in Lithuania’s fintech sector, there are a variety of other business sectors that could potentially benefit from exploring the possibilities and advantages of obtaining an EMI license. Industries such as e-commerce, digital marketplaces, gaming platforms, and even sectors involved in loyalty programs or gift card services could potentially leverage the flexibility and convenience offered by an EMI license to upgrade their payment methods and enhance customer experiences.
The adaptability of electronic money services opens doors for diverse business models seeking to streamline transactions, offer innovative payment solutions, and expand their reach within the rapidly progressing world of digital commerce. One of the latest examples of taking such an approach is a subsidiary of Vinted, an immensely popular online second-hand fashion marketplace, which obtained a Lithuanian EMI license to provide payment services to Vinted customers across Europe. It’s proof that an EMI license has considerably more potential than it looks from the first glance and we invite you to explore it further.
Types of Lithuanian EMI Licenses
In Lithuania, you can choose from two types of EMI licenses in Lithuania:
- A license of an electronic money institution (EMI) which is a regular EMI license
- A license of an electronic money institution to engage in restricted activities which excludes certain activities
The regular EMI license permits the conduct of all the aforementioned activities and it’s designed for established financial institutions and other larger businesses that have a robust operational structure and a substantial customer base across Europe. This license permits its holders to offer their products and services to the vast European Economic Area (EEA) without having to obtain separate licenses in each country. However, obtaining and maintaining a regular EMI license involves having to meet stricter regulatory requirements.
If you aren’t planning to serve the entire EU/EEA just yet, we suggest acquiring a limited activity EMI license that authorizes e-money operations only within the territory of Lithuania. This license is designed for startups that have a relatively low volume of electronic money transactions and are looking for a low barrier to entry in order to provide services to consumers based in one country. This sort of setup is ideal for testing and experimenting with e-money products before expanding into new markets. Restricted institutions are subject to more relaxed licensing and management requirements but are restricted when it comes to maintaining average outstanding electronic money and/or turnover of payment transactions.
Your EMI will be eligible for a restricted activity license if the preceding six months’ average outstanding electronic money of the EMI doesn’t exceed 900,000 EUR per month, with the exception of the case detailed in paragraph 7 of Article 12 of the Law on Electronic Money and Electronic Money Institutions. If your EMI is granted a restricted activity license and then exceeds this limit, you must apply for a regular EMI license within 30 days of the revelation of this information.
Advantages of Holding a Lithuanian EMI License
There are plenty of compelling reasons why over 80 electronic money institutions have chosen this tiny but welcoming and promising jurisdiction as a home for their operations, and why you should follow suit. From efficient regulations and EU passporting rights to technological infrastructure and a highly skilled talent pool, Lithuania boasts a business environment that allows EMIs to gain a competitive edge and project growth in the future.
The key benefits of holding an e-money license in Lithuania:
- Lithuania boasts a forward-thinking regulatory framework that’s well-aligned with the EU directives and is specifically designed to accommodate fintech businesses, including e-money institutions, which is why you can expect a clear and efficient path for obtaining an EMI license
- Regular EMI license holders have passporting rights within the EEA (30 prosperous countries), which means that Lithuanian EMIs can operate and provide services across multiple EEA member countries without being obligated to obtain separate licenses in each jurisdiction, thereby expanding market reach significantly
- The Lithuanian government actively supports the growth of the fintech industry through various initiatives, funding opportunities, and partnerships, creating a robust ecosystem for companies seeking to become EMI licensees within a vibrant fintech hub
- Compared to many other European jurisdictions, Lithuania offers a quicker and smoother process for market entry as the Bank of Lithuania, the country’s financial regulatory authority, has streamlined the licensing process for e-money and other financial institutions
- Lithuania boasts a robust technological infrastructure, including high-quality internet connectivity and speed (it ranks 10th in the world for fixed broadband speeds!), and is actively investing in the development of 5G technology which, among other benefits, means quicker and more efficient transaction processing
- The country is home to a highly skilled workforce with strong work ethics, particularly in IT and financial technology sectors, providing an environment favorable to innovation and technological developments
- Compared to some other EU jurisdictions, Lithuania offers a cost-effective business environment with lower operational costs, thanks to the favorable tax regime, streamlined bureaucratic processes, and fairly competitive labor costs
All of these benefits can be a catalyst for your e-money institution’s success in the European or even international market, where you can establish a credible presence worth the trust of millions of customers looking for practical solutions for their financial needs. Accessing these benefits now will allow you to potentially seize lucrative opportunities and build resilience while the market is relatively less competitive.
Regulations for E-Money Institutions in Lithuania
Lithuania is known for fintech-friendly regulations, imposed by the Bank of Lithuania, the award-winning authority that constantly and relentlessly looks for ways to improve its value proposition for innovative businesses. The country’s regulatory framework aligns properly with the directives and standards set out by the EU, and you can expect a harmonic environment favorable to the growth of your EMI within Lithuania and beyond. Such an environment creates clarity and facilitates consistency for EMIs wherever in Europe they decide to operate which leads to a greater focus on innovation, streamlined operations, and reduced costs.
The Lithuanian regulatory framework has been shaped by the following EU regulations:
- The Electronic Money Directive (EMD), or Directive 2009/110/EC , sets regulatory standards for the issuance and operation of e-money and EMIs within the EU by stipulating rules for customer protection, initial capital, cross-border operations, and much more
- The Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), or Directive (EU) 2015/2366, sets regulatory standards for payment services provided within the EU and is applicable to EMIs that offer payment products and services in addition to e-money
- EU Anti-Money Laundering Directives (AMLDs) – mandate the implementation of robust anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), such as customer due diligence measures, enhanced scrutiny of high-risk transactions, and the establishment of robust risk assessment frameworks
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) establishes principles for the lawful, fair, and transparent processing of personal data and is highly applicable to EMIs as they handle sensitive financial information and personal data of their customers during transactions
The Lithuanian regulatory framework governing EMI licensees consists of various acts and regulations:
- The law on Electronic Money and Electronic Money Institutions is the primary legal act governing EMIs in Lithuania as it outlines the establishment, operation, and supervision of EMIs, emphasizing prudential rules, transparency, and consumer protection
- The Republic of Lithuania Act on Financial Institutions defines financial services and outlines the criteria for founders, participants, and executives of financial and credit institutions involved in offering these services, as well as outlines the requirements and procedures for obtaining authorization as a financial institution, including as an EMI
- The Republic of Lithuania Law on Payment Institutions establishes the procedure for licensing, terminating, and supervising payment institutions and is applicable to EMIs offering payment services specified in this Law
- The Republic of Lithuania Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing established measures for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, including the implementation of a risk-based approach, and the establishment of robust compliance programs
- The Republic of Lithuania Law on Legal Protection of Personal Data regulates how personal information gets used, and outlines what rights consumers have over their data, how to protect those rights, and what responsibilities everyone has when handling personal information
- Rules for the Issuing of Licenses to Electronic Money Institutions and Payment Institutions establish procedures for submitting and examining applications for an EMI or PI license and include various forms and templates to be completed by applicants
EMIs are also subject to general national legislation relating to company formation, taxation, and corporate governance. Complying with these regulations ensures that EMIs not only adhere to the specific requirements for their industry but also operate in accordance with broader legal frameworks governing businesses in Lithuania. To get a complete and detailed picture of the regulatory framework applicable to your EMI’s business model, partner with our team who will carefully analyze your situation and share actionable insights, backed by years of experience in the European fintech industry.
How to Get a Lithuanian EMI License?
Obtaining a Lithuanian EMI license is relatively easy, thanks to the clear and transparent regulatory framework, and the regulator’s flexibility when it comes to promoting innovative businesses. You can choose to apply for a brand new Lithuanian EMI license from the Bank of Lithuania or acquire a ready-made company with a fully functional EMI license. Our team can expertly lead you through any of these processes – reach out to us directly to discuss specific offers.
Generally, when considering these options, you should think about your business goals, financial resources, operational capabilities, risk tolerance, and timelines. For instance, the process of obtaining a new EMI license is more time-consuming and requires many resources to build a fully compliant operational structure but at the same time, you have complete control over that structure, corporate policies, branding, and other crucial areas. By opening a new EMI company, you’ll have the ability to build the brand and reputation from scratch and shape it according to your vision and values. Establishing a unique brand identity in the financial services market is advantageous because it can set you apart from competitors right from the start and resonate more effectively with your target customers.
Buying a ready-made company with an EMI license is an ideal option for those looking to enter the market quickly without undergoing the lengthier licensing process. This way, you can position yourself ahead of competitors who are still navigating the application requirements. On the other hand, you may potentially have higher upfront costs associated with purchasing an established e-money institution and may need to adjust to the acquired company’s pre-existing structures, policies, and operations which might not align with your intended direction. That said, our legal team can help you find a ready-made company with an EMI license in Lithuania that is closely aligned with your strategic direction and requires minimal time to be acquired.
If you’re not quite sure which one of the two options suits your business model best, and if it’s the right time to start running an EMI, know that not taking action might result in missed opportunities in the market that sooner or later will bounce back stronger. We firmly suggest you act now to avoid losing your competitive edge. If you’re still wondering if Lithuania is the right jurisdiction for you, consider it the destination where you can minimize the risk of making a costly decision and maximize the potential for successful and fully supported market entry.
Eligibility Criteria for EMI License Applicants in Lithuania
If you decide to apply for a Lithuanian EMI license, there will be a list of legal prerequisites for your EMI and individuals involved in the business. The purpose of these prerequisites is to ensure that only financial institutions capable of maintaining the integrity of the financial services market and adhering to the EU-wide standards are granted an EMI license. The Bank of Lithuania will also look for evidence that at the time of authorization, your EMI is as compliant as any EMI that’s already in operation. To prove this, you’ll have to supply a variety of detailed documents and verifiable information. Many documents can be submitted in English but if you happen to need certified translation services, we’re here to help.
The main EMI license requirements in Lithuania:
- Establish a company under Lithuanian law – it must be either a Private Limited Liability Company (UAB) or a Public Limited Liability Company (AB)
- Have a registered office in Lithuania
- Establish the general meeting, and the board and appoint a head of the institution (for restricted EMI activities, the board is usually not required unless it’s a public company)
- Applicants for a regular EMI license must possess a minimum capital which is 350,000 EUR
- Ensure clear and detailed processes and policies for handling electronic money issuance that match your EMI’s size and complexity (this includes an organized setup that separates different tasks, sets clear responsibilities, and keeps track of risks)
- Demonstrate a robust operational setup, including secure IT systems, risk management protocols, and compliance procedures
- Establish robust AML/CFT measures, including processes of reporting to the Financial Crime Investigation Service (FCIS) and the Bank of Lithuania
- Company directors and key personnel must meet fit and proper criteria, demonstrating the integrity and competence required to perform their duties
- Also, it’s crucial to guarantee the fitness and propriety of the EMI and its shareholders or holders of voting rights which means that entities with a qualifying holding in the EMI’s authorized capital and/or voting rights must be able to ensure sound and prudent management of the EMI, have sufficiently high repute and be financially sound
- Pay a state levy to the State Tax Inspectorate (STI) for the granting of the EMI license which is 1,463 EUR for regular license applicants and 1,235 EUR for limited activity EMI license applicants
Applicants for an EMI license with restricted activities are exempt from the following:
- Initial capital requirement
- Own funds requirement
- The requirements for the fitness and propriety of shareholders or holders of voting rights
The Bank of Lithuania requires the following documents from EMI license applicants:
- An application form provided by the Bank of Lithuania
- Documents confirming the legal status of an applicant (e.g., articles of association)
- A document confirming the right of a representative to represent the applicant
- A document confirming the payment of a stamp duty for license issue
- A program of operations describing the type of services to be provided (as specified in Annex 6 to the Rules for the Issuing of Licenses to Electronic Money Institutions and Payment Institutions)
- A well-defined business plan that outlines the intended scope, scale, and nature of e-money services
- Documentary evidence of possessed minimum capital, such as a set of annual financial statements of the previous financial year, an extract from a public register specifying the registered capital, or a statement from a bank or licensed institution in Lithuania confirming your company’s deposited funds in a savings account
- A description of measures taken (or to be taken) for safeguarding consumer funds
- A description of corporate governance arrangements and internal control mechanisms, including administrative, risk management and accounting systems
- A description of the structural organization, including a detailed organizational chart and each department’s responsibilities (as specified in Annex 10 to the Rules for the Issuing of Licenses to Electronic Money Institutions and Payment Institutions)
- Questionnaires completed by the applying company’s heads (head of administration, heads of structural subdivisions, and, where applicable, board members or members of the supervisory board)
- A professional indemnity insurance contract and other documents showing liability coverage, along with details and proof of how the coverage amount was calculated
- A questionnaire on the operational risk of the EMI, including internal control mechanisms, information on outsourcing, and cybersecurity management (as specified in Annex 11 to the Rules for the Issuing of Licenses to Electronic Money Institutions and Payment Institutions)
We know it’s a lot to take in and you would prefer to focus on the development of your e-money products and services instead of having to grapple with these regulatory requirements. Our team of diversely skilled experts would be delighted to remove this burden from your shoulders and ensure that your application package is well-aligned with the legal requirements. That way, you’ll maximize your chances of success. Contact us at any time to start the process of securing your EMI license in Lithuania.
EMI License Application Process in Lithuania
If all the right documents are submitted in the correct way, the EMI license application is reviewed within three months. However, if some documents are missing or incomplete, the Bank of Lithuania has three months from when the missing information is provided to review the application. This means that you should strive to submit an application of the highest quality, otherwise, your entry into the market will be hindered by regulatory delays.
The main steps of applying for an EMI License in Lithuania:
- Carefully prepare all the required information and documents
- Pay the state levy to the national tax authority
- Submit the application package to the Bank of Lithuania
- The Supervision Service and other structural units of the Bank will verify and assess your documents
- The authority will maintain regular communication and, if required, will set up meetings with representatives of the applying financial institution
- The Supervision Service may submit comments, according to which your EMI will have to eliminate any highlighted shortcomings
By now, you can probably discern that obtaining a Lithuanian EMI license can be a strategic move for your e-money business. Recall such reasons as European market access, a fintech-friendly environment, accelerated regulatory processes, and cost-effective operations. Such factors can positively impact your company’s expansion. Don’t miss your chance to tap into the opportunities of the rapidly evolving financial services market with the help of experienced lawyers, business development professionals, and financial accountants. We have over six years of experience in helping numerous businesses secure EMI licenses in Lithuania and would like to offer our legal know-how to you. Contact us now to schedule a personalized EMI license consultation during which we’ll discuss your immediate steps toward lasting success.
“As an experienced legal professional with a deep understanding of the nuances surrounding legal entities registration in Lithuania, I am committed to providing you with thorough and up-to-date insights to support your endeavours. My dedication extends to ensuring that you receive relevant and accessible information to navigate the regulatory framework and effectively progress with your projects in Lithuania.”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Lithuania has become a hub for fintech operations, particularly for EMI licenses, due to its proven economic resilience, openness to innovation, and a regulatory framework that supports the fintech industry.
The country's agility in responding to market needs, along with other advantages such as EU passporting rights, technological infrastructure, and a skilled workforce, makes it an attractive destination for fintech businesses.
Why is a Lithuanian EMI license considered key for building a sustainable e-money business in the EU and internationally?
A Lithuanian EMI license is considered key for building a sustainable e-money business due to its authorization to issue electronic money, facilitate fund transfers, issue payment instruments, and provide various financial services.
With this license, businesses can operate within the EU and access passporting rights, enabling them to expand internationally.
Acquiring a ready-made company with an EMI license in Lithuania offers advantages such as:
- Swift market entry
- Fully functional operational structure
- Expedited legal processes
While the acquisition duration varies, it allows businesses to enter the market quickly. However, there may be higher upfront costs associated with purchasing an established EMI. Furthermore, adjustments might be needed to align with the acquired company's existing structures.
There are two types of Lithuanian EMI licenses:
- A license of an electronic money institution (EMI), which permits a wide range of activities. This license type is suitable for established financial institutions.
- A license of an electronic money institution to engage in restricted activities. This license type is ideal for startups with lower transaction volumes operating within Lithuania.
A regular EMI license in Lithuania permits a broad range of activities, including:
- Issuing electronic money
- Storing electronic money on customers' behalf
- Issuing payment instruments (prepaid cards, virtual cards)
- Facilitating domestic and international fund transfers
- Enabling direct payments from customers' accounts
- Issuing payment cards, facilitating secure online payments, offering currency conversion services, providing payment account services, processing electronic payments, and more
A limited activity EMI license is designed for startups with lower transaction volumes, operating within Lithuania.
The key difference lies in restrictions on maintaining average outstanding electronic money and/or turnover of payment transactions. If these limits are not exceeded, the EMI is eligible for a restricted license, subject to more relaxed requirements.
To apply for a Lithuanian EMI license, applicants must meet certain criteria, including:
- Establishing a company under Lithuanian law (UAB or AB)
- Having a registered office in Lithuania
- Appointing a head of the institution
- Meeting minimum capital requirements (€350,000 for regular EMI license applicants)
- Demonstrating robust operational setup, AML/CFT measures, and governance arrangements
- Ensuring fitness and propriety of directors and key personnel
- Paying a state levy to the State Tax Inspectorate
Companies eligible for obtaining an EMI license in Lithuania are those established under Lithuanian law, either as Private Limited Liability Companies (UAB) or Public Limited Liability Companies (AB). These companies must have a registered office in Lithuania and meet the specified criteria for governance, capital, and operational setup.
Lithuania's technological infrastructure, including high-quality internet connectivity and active investment in 5G technology, contributes to the success of EMI license holders. The country ranks 10th globally for fixed broadband speeds, ensuring efficient transaction processing. This technological advantage enhances the overall operational efficiency of EMI license holders.
Lithuania actively supports fintech industry growth through various initiatives, funding opportunities, and partnerships.
The regulatory framework is fintech-friendly, aligning with EU directives and standards. The government's support creates a robust ecosystem for companies seeking to become EMI licensees within Lithuania, fostering innovation and technological development.
Lithuania is considered a cost-effective business environment for EMI license holders due to its favourable tax regime, streamlined bureaucratic processes, and competitive labour costs. Operational expenses are lower compared to some other EU jurisdictions, allowing EMI license holders to benefit from cost efficiencies.
Regular EMI license holders in Lithuania enjoy passporting rights within the European Economic Area (EEA). This means they can operate and provide services across multiple EEA member countries without obtaining separate licenses in each jurisdiction.
Passporting rights significantly expand market reach, allowing license holders to serve customers in different countries within the EEA.
The Bank of Lithuania assesses fitness and propriety criteria for EMI license applicants by evaluating the integrity and competence of company directors and key personnel.
Applicants must demonstrate the capability to manage the EMI prudently, maintain a high reputation, and ensure financial soundness. This assessment ensures that individuals associated with the EMI are fit and proper to perform their duties.
What are the potential challenges of acquiring a ready-made company with an EMI license in Lithuania?
Acquiring a ready-made company with an EMI license in Lithuania may pose challenges such as higher upfront costs, the need for adjustments to align with the acquired company's structures, policies, and operations, and potential differences in strategic direction.
Businesses should carefully consider these factors before opting for acquisition to ensure alignment with their intended goals.
The Bank of Lithuania aims to review an EMI license application within three months if all required documents are submitted correctly. However, if documents are missing or incomplete, the Bank has three months from the provision of the missing information to complete the review.
All things considered, a high-quality application submission is crucial to avoid regulatory delays in market entry.
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