Google gets EU e-money licence in Lithuania amid Brexit uncertainty

Lithuania’s central bank said Friday it has granted Google a pan-European e-money licence as the Baltic eurozone state seeks to attract firms concerned that Brexit may bar them from the EU market.

Google Payment Lithuania “will be able to issue electronic money and provide payment services to ensure smooth operation of its marketplaces across Europe”, it said in a statement.

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Lithuania, a nation of 2.8 million people, says Brexit has given a boost to its efforts to become a northern European hub for fintech firms.

Britain-based companies fear they may lose “passporting” rights to provide payment or e-money services to customers in the EU after Brexit in March 2019.

“In the light of the upcoming UK-EU split, we are receiving more inquiries than ever before from startups and global enterprises all searching for one thing –- the next major fintech hub,” Mantas Katinas, who heads Invest Lithuania agency, told AFP.

Google has e-money licence in Britain, but its spokesman declined to elaborate if Brexit was a factor to set up a separate subsidiary.

“We are constantly working to develop payments products and support our customers,” Google spokesman Adam Malczak told AFP.

“We have applied for a Payment Licence in Lithuania as part of these efforts, in addition to ongoing discussions as to projects all around Europe,” he added.

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Lithuania’s fintech cluster now includes more than 100 licensed companies, according to the central bank.

Among them is British fintech Revolut which secured a European banking licence from authorities in Lithuania earlier this month.

The Google licence “does not have any restrictions in terms of currency issuance”, central bank spokesman Rimantas Pilibaitis told AFP.

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