In order to successfully develop a business in the field of FinTech, it is necessary to choose a favorable environment for registering a legal entity and obtaining a license. If we compare the conditions in European jurisdictions, then Lithuania is a good solution, since a license for electronic money or a payment institution can be obtained in a fairly short time and without excessive procedural complications.
Note! More than 100 payment institutions and e-money issuers have already been registered in Lithuania, which confirms in practice how attractive the country is for fintech entrepreneurship.
The Lawrange law firm team offers a full package of legal services for starting a fintech business in Latvia from registering a company, obtaining a license and directly starting work. Cost of services = 5000 EUR for registering a company under EMI and opening a bank account + 50,000 EUR preparation of documents for a license + 1,463 EUR state fee for a license.
What is EMI?
The abbreviation EMI stands for Electronic Money Institution, that is, the institution of electronic money. Sometimes the concepts of e-money, EMI, electronic money operator (EMO) are used, which have a similar meaning.
Important! EMI is a licensed legal entity that has the right to: a) provide payment services to customers; b) issue electronic money; c) carry out the circulation of electronic money.
The financial system today includes many different institutions besides banks. Technology makes it possible to provide almost all banking services without opening a banking institution in the traditional sense of the word. The license for electronic money provides an opportunity to provide such services. The only stumbling block to the development of EMI is a significant distrust and misunderstanding of the essence of such financial activities. When choosing between electronic money (so-called electronic wallets) and traditional banks, business representatives still often prefer the latter. The reason lies in the lack of faith in the reliability of payment services.
***Note: An e-wallet is a digital means of payment, just like offline cash coins and banknotes. Using an electronic wallet, you can pay for purchases on the Internet, receive and send money transfers without using a bank account. Transactions between wallets are instantaneous.
Among the main differences between banks and EMIs are:
- EMI’s lack of the right to issue loans and issue credit cards, while for banks, lending is the most important way to make a profit.
- For clients, EMI opens sub-accounts within its own bank account – electronic wallets are created.
- Accounts in EMI can be opened completely remotely, both for individuals and for companies. Most banks require a personal visit at least to open an account.
The Bank of Lithuania (Central Bank of Lithuania) is in charge of issuing licenses for an authorized issuer of electronic money (EMI). This state regulator, like other institutions issuing licenses in Europe, is guided in its activities by Directive 2009/110 / EC – a document that represents the legal basis for the issuance of electronic money.
There are two types of licenses related to electronic money that can be obtained in Lithuania: Payment Institution (PI) and Electronic Money Institution (EMI). The latter is wider and includes all the features of the PI license. In particular, unlike PI, the EMI license provides the ability to hold customer funds in accounts for a longer period than is required purely for the transaction.
The Payment Institution has the right to accept funds to the account only together with the payment order to be executed. Funds from a PI payment account must be credited to the beneficiary’s account by the next business day at the latest. Alternatively, you can agree on a day for the transfer of funds. However, if the institution violates the rules regarding the retention of funds in the account, sanctions may follow from the state regulator, up to the revocation of the license.
Important! If you obtain an EMI license in Lithuania, you can:
- issue cards of Visa and Mastercard vendors associated with the client’s account;
- open IBAN accounts for clients of the institution;
- link existing bank cards to client sub-accounts;
- make payments in USD / EUR / GBP and other currencies around the world;
- create your own card payment system.
An EMI license holder is entitled to provide the following services to customers:
- Issue of electronic money (electronic wallets, prepaid cards, etc.).
- International money transfers.
- Crediting cash to the payment account and withdrawing cash from the account.
- Complex of necessary operations for full-fledged work with the payment account.
- Direct debit – debiting funds from customer accounts in favor of third parties (creditors) on the basis of a payment order.
- Making credit transfers.
- Issue of payment instruments.
- Acquiring of payment transactions.
Benefits of an EMI license in Lithuania
On transparent and fairly favorable terms, it is possible to obtain permission to provide a wide range of payment services in Lithuania, only a banking license can give more opportunities.
Important! In favor of Lithuania as a jurisdiction for obtaining an EMI license, the following arguments can be distinguished:
- Relatively short delivery time.
The duration of the licensing procedure is from 6 to 12 months, and depends on the completeness of the package of submitted documents.
- No time limit.
A license for electronic money in Lithuania is issued for an indefinite period.
- Possibility of certification of the license for other EU countries.
You don’t have to go through the licensing process again.
- The use of English in business.
Documents to the state regulator can be prepared in English. Moreover, the country’s legislation is consistent with EU law, so it does not require in-depth study.
- Access to the SEPA zone.
Through the generated account in the CENTROlink payment system, which is managed by the Central Bank of Lithuania, you can get direct access to the Single Euro Payments Area.
***Note: Lithuania joined SEPA back in 2016. Now SEPA has 36 member countries. A SEPA account allows you to become a payer or recipient of funds to or from any SEPA country.
- The ability to remotely verify customers as part of the KYC procedure.
Unlike most banks, Lithuanian-licensed e-money institutions are allowed to carry out customer identification using such means as digital signature, electronic copies of documents, video communication, and so on.
- Regulatory Sandbox for Startups.
Under the control of the Central Bank, companies can test innovative products in the course of real activities. For minor violations, the regulator does not impose penalties during the first year of development. However, only a project that meets a number of criteria can access the regulatory sandbox.
The advantage of obtaining an EMI license in Lithuania with Lawrange
Although obtaining an EMI license in Lithuania provides many benefits, and the paperwork is as streamlined as possible, it is still a task of a high level of complexity. The state regulator seeks to completely close any loopholes for fraudsters and persons who launder money obtained by criminal means.
Note! It is difficult to go through the procedure without an experienced assistant. At a minimum, this entails additional time costs.
The support of JSC Lawrange allows you to comply with a strict procedure for obtaining a license and provides a prospect for a businessman to quickly start his direct activity.
What do representatives of JSC Lawrange undertake?
- registering a company under EMI and opening a bank account in order to deposit the authorized capital, as well as obtaining a VAT number;
- preparation of an application to the state regulator along with a package of accompanying documents;
- development of an action plan, collection of information, assistance in preparing a business plan, advice on risk management, analysis of the compliance of the company’s activities with the requirements of Lithuanian legislation;
- filling in all necessary forms and applications;
- representation of interests in interaction with the state regulator – the Central Bank of Lithuania, as well as with the Ministry of Finance, audit companies and other providers of services necessary for the company’s work;
- assistance in the development of AML and KYC policies;
- if the client so desires, we will accompany the activities of the company after obtaining a license.
Conditions for Obtaining an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) License
The requirements for licensing an electronic money issuer relate to the applicant, authorized capital, founders and shareholders, management bodies, and so on. We are talking about compliance with a fairly large and serious list of conditions, which is natural, since significant financial flows are likely to pass through the institution.
Consider the requirements for groups.
Legal entity registered in Lithuania. It follows from this: in order to obtain an EMI license, you must first open a company under it in Lithuania. This company and its founders should not be banned by the regulatory authorities of the EU or Lithuania. It is mandatory to have a physical office in Lithuania.
There must be at least one individual among the founders. The minimum age is over 18 years old. Lithuanian residency is not required. The main requirement is an impeccable business reputation or goodwill (if we are talking about a legal entity). The Central Bank of Lithuania should have financial confidence in its shareholders – no doubts about the origin of funds.
***Notes: The state regulator obliges the founders to comply with prudential standards, that is, requirements that ensure the reliability, liquidity, solvency of the institution, as well as the protection of the interests of customers and shareholders.
Minimum – 350,000 euros (but this requirement is not required for obtaining a limited license). When depositing the authorized capital, the source of origin of funds should be indicated. The authorized capital in the designated amount should be maintained throughout the life of the company.
When opening an account, you will need to provide the bank with:
– completed questionnaire on operational risk for the applicant;
– business plan;
– description of measures to protect client funds (safety of client funds is ensured through a separate bank account of the client or with the help of an insurance policy);
– description of the organizational structure, internal control system, risk management, accounting.
Among the leaders, Lithuanian citizens must include the general director and an AML officer. At the same time, they are required to have qualifications and experience in the relevant field. It is desirable that the manager of the company (director) reside in the country throughout its life cycle.
Peculiarities of Lithuanian legislation
Note! The legislation of the country prescribes the requirements for the structure of the governing bodies of an electronic money institution and directly for the management of such companies.
The following governing bodies are created in the electronic money institution:
– the head of the institution – must have a higher education in the field of law, economics, business administration or management and have an impeccable reputation, competence and experience in holding the position of head, deputy head or head of a division of a legal entity for at least two years over the previous eight years;
– General Meeting of Shareholders;
– council (board) – consisting of at least two people with higher education in law, economics, business administration or management, as an option – experience in these areas from one year over the past five years;
– control commission.
***Note 1: Experience means experience as an accountant, financial director, head of the legal department, auditor, director of a legal entity.
***Note 2: Educational and experience requirements, similar to those for board members, must be met by the heads of structural divisions of an EMI institution, including branches in other EU countries.
List of documents for obtaining a license
The indicative package of documentation that is submitted to the state regulator includes:
- EMI’s charter;
- information about the authorized capital;
- information on beneficiaries – persons who have significant shares in the authorized capital;
- information about the directors – persons who will be responsible for the management of the company (including confirmation of reputation and compliance with legal requirements);
- a document confirming the presence of a physical office, for example, a lease agreement for premises;
- a business plan and action program, including a forecast budget for three financial years ahead – it is important to prove the viability of the institution to operate, generate income, use internal control policies and risk management systems;
- a set of internal policies: a description of measures to protect customer funds, control, risk management and accounting, AML, organizational structure (including branches);
- the conclusion of the auditor – a partner audit firm or a certified auditor.
***Note: The content and form of documents must comply with the requirements of Directive 2015/2366 on payment services in the internal market (PSD2). Documentation is submitted to the state regulator in Lithuanian or English.
Cost and terms of obtaining an EMI license in Lithuania
The cost of the package of services provided by the Lawrange Law Firm in obtaining an EMI license in Lithuania includes the following items of expenses:
- registration of a legal entity in the country under EMI + opening a bank account for depositing the authorized capital – 5,000 EUR;
- preparation of a set of documentation, which is submitted along with the application to the state regulator for obtaining a license – 50,000 EUR;
- state license fee – 1 463 EUR.
Attention! The provision of a number of services is negotiated and paid separately. These are services such as:
– Solving the issue of renting office space;
– service “nominee director”;
– hiring local staff.
The terms for obtaining an EMI license are from 6 to 12 months.
Note! Prepared and signed documents from the moment of submission are considered by the Central Bank of Lithuania for no more than 3 months. But if any shortcomings (errors, lack of necessary information) are identified, the regulator may require adjustments or request additional information. In such cases, the processing time has been extended
counting down – counting should be carried out from the moment of submission of the last document.
Licensing process for an e-money issuer in Lithuania
Conventionally, five stages can be distinguished in the process of obtaining an EMI license.
Stage 1. Preparation of documents for company registration.
The company charter, details of beneficial owners and directors, technical documentation for e-wallets, AML policies and certificates, and so on should be prepared.
Stage 2. Creation of a legal entity.
In addition to registering a company, the issue of a legal address, a local telephone number, and renting real estate for an office is being resolved.
Stage 3. Start of operation of a legal entity.
You should apply for a VAT number and open a bank account, sign an agreement for accounting services.
Stage 4. Preparation for licensing.
It is necessary to prepare a business plan, a description of the organizational structure, risk planning.
Stage 5. Applying for and obtaining an EMI license.
The collected documentation package is submitted to the Central Bank, if a need arises, additional documents and information are sent in response to requests. The result is a license for the issuer of electronic money.
Lithuania, as an optimal environment for fintech startups, offers favorable EMI licensing conditions. However, this does not mean that the process of paperwork is easy and fast. The applicant will have to comply with a number of legal requirements, be ready to contribute a considerable authorized capital, develop a certain list of internal policies and regulations. Registration of a license under any conditions involves not only the submission of documents, but also communication with the state regulator represented by the Central Bank of Lithuania. Accordingly, it is necessary to know how to properly answer questions and respond to written requests.
For the team of experts of JSC Lawrange, support for the registration of transnational companies, including financial institutions, is the main area of specialization. Therefore, our services allow you to optimize the licensing process and achieve results with less effort. By default, each client can count on complete confidentiality.
Can a non-resident obtain an EMI license in Lithuania?
Yes. But subject to the involvement of local residents in the management bodies of the electronic money institution.
Can I get an EMI license online?
Yes. Moreover, if you use the support of JSC Lawrange, our lawyer will be able to act on your behalf by proxy.
How to get an EMI license?
First you need to register a company in Lithuania and open a bank account. Then you need to collect a package of documents and resolve the issues of compliance of the legal entity with the requirements of the state regulator that issues EMI licenses.