What was 2023 like for Lithuanian fintech companies and what to expect in 2024?
With the world becoming increasingly digital each year, the role of fintech companies providing nextgen financial services has been growing. Hardly anyone remembers the days when, for example, you had to go to a bank branch to solve your banking issues.
According to Greta Ranonytė, Head of the Fintech Hub LT Association, financial technology is like éminence grise: we may not know the names of the companies, but we feel the results of their work and innovations every day, when transferring money using just a mobile phone number, paying in a shop with a swipe of a card or a mobile phone, or conveniently paying small merchants in a market or at a hairdresser’s. Fintech companies are also solving the painful issues for small businesses, from handling e-commerce payments or collecting payments to facilitating credit. A growing competition in the financial sector results in a wider choice for consumers, who are adjusting the pricing of services and encouraging companies to develop more customer-focused and innovative services and products.
“Lithuania is often referred to as one of the leaders in the fintech industry in Europe, and for many people fintech companies have become an integral part of their lives. I believe that fintech companies in Lithuania are not only creating the financial services we need, but also successfully raising our country profile abroad. I therefore think that it is necessary to talk more about this sector,” argues Ms Ranonytė.
2023 in figures
In 2023, Lithuanian fintech companies provided payment services to 27 million customers across the European Union, i.e. one in ten Europeans. A survey of members of Fintech Hub LT, an association of licensed financial technology companies in Lithuania, shows that the number of profitable electronic money institutions (EMI) and payment institutions (PI) has been growing annually. This allows companies to create even more high value-added jobs. The member companies of the association employ almost 2 000 people, and more than 7 000 people are employed in the entire sector. The average gross salary of these employees is well above the national average, at EUR 3 889 in the member companies alone.
By creating new jobs, fintech companies significantly contribute to making Lithuania with the capital Vilnius a centre of excellence. The knowledge of people working in the sector to prevent money laundering, terrorist financing and sanctions evasion has become one of the key arguments for the Lithuanian authorities to encourage the establishment of European Union-level supervisory authorities in our country.
According to the data of the Bank of Lithuania, there were 127 institutions operating in the EMI and PI sector at the end of the first half of 2023 (83 EMIs and 44 PIs). At the beginning of this year, compared to the same period last year, the revenues from licensed activities in the sector increased by almost a quarter to EUR 227 million, while the amount of payment transactions more than doubled to EUR 221 billion. Revenues from licensed activities of electronic money and payment institutions reached EUR 107 million (up 29 per cent) in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period last year. This year’s sector figures show a trend of continued successful fintech growth in Lithuania.
The venture capital fund Firstpick estimates that fintech startups raised EUR 5.3 million of investment in Lithuania in 2023.
Why 2024 will be a milestone year for Lithuania?
This year, the Ministry of Finance approved the Guidelines for the Development of the Lithuanian Fintech Sector for 2023–2028, targeted at making Lithuania an internationally acknowledged and recognisable high value-added European fintech hub over the next five years.
“In 2024, Lithuania will hold presidential, parliamentary and European Parliament elections. Therefore, I believe that in order to achieve the ambitious goal of 2023–2028, politicians must include the fintech sector in their election programmes. A survey of Fintech Hub LT members shows that the rapid growth of fintech at the moment would be boosted by politicians listening to the problems highlighted and the solutions proposed by fintech ecosystem players. For example, ensuring risk assessment based regulation and business supervision, proportionality in the application of requirements, openness to new business models and reduction of red tape. In other words, the fintech community sees politicians as playing a key role in Lithuania’s quest for international leadership in the fintech sector,” comments the Head of the Fintech Hub LT Association.