The Chinese financial technology startup PanPay has arrived to Lithuania under the Startup Visa programme
The Startup Visa programme initiated in Lithuania nearly a year ago to attract foreign talents to Lithuania has gained momentum. The geography of young entrepreneurs aspiring to set up innovative startups in Lithuania stretches from China to the United States of America, and their business ideas are as good as prominent global business models. Lithuania is a state offering exceptionally favorable conditions for financial technology startups.
In the period from the launch of the programme in February last year until the end of the year, Startup Lithuania powered by Enterprise Lithuania, received about 120 applications from foreigners wishing to establish a startup in our country. One-fourth of these business ideas met the criteria of the Startup Visa programme and were allowed to continue dealing with the matter of transfer to Lithuania.
“We are very excited to witness the first results of the Startup Visa programme, which was launched in Lithuania as little as a year ago. We are responsible for the development of the Lithuanian startup ecosystem, and we believe this measure is one of the possibilities for increasing the number of startups in Lithuania. Our purpose is to attract innovative startups offering high added value, therefore, we are scrupulous when evaluating the applications by paying attention not only to the business idea, but also to the applicants’ capacities for the implementation of this idea,” says Roberta Rudokienė, Head of the Startup Lithuania.
So far, six startups out of the 27 innovative business ideas approved last year have established and launched their activities in Lithuania. A financial technology startup PanPay established in Vilnius by a Chinese citizen is one of the latest startups set up in Lithuania. In December last year, the Bank of Lithuania issued to the company PanPay Europe managed in Lithuania by a Chinese businessman Allen Zhou a license entitling to issue electronic money and provide payment services. The main office of the company PanPay is situated in Shanghai, China, where it serves financial flows between China and Europe, and from now on, this service will be rendered from Lithuania as well.
“Before choosing Lithuania, I performed a thorough analysis and selected Lithuania for development of my business, because the local government demonstrated a firm position regarding the support of the financial technology sector, and, having launched my activities, I saw the commitment of local competent authorities to develop this sector. The mere possibility for submitting the application to the Bank of Lithuania in the English language was a considerable relief for me as a foreigner seeking to set up a business in Lithuania. I have lived in such cities as Shanghai, Dubai, and Moscow, but I chose Vilnius because it is an unbelievably efficient city. My business of financial technologies is very much dependent on the IT infrastructure, and I am confident in claiming that, so far, I haven’t seen such a high level of IT services as in Lithuania,” says Allen Zhou, the head of the startup PanPay Europe.
According to Roberta Rudokienė, the Startup Visa has streamlined the migration rules for foreigners seeking to set up and develop a business in Lithuania. “Lithuania is a state offering exceptionally favorable conditions for financial technology startups. The successful example of PanPay proves the above fact. Our country offers a prompt and cheap procedure for the issuance of a license of a financial institution, and access to the payment infrastructure of the Bank of Lithuania. Moreover, it is possible to find employees with required qualifications. Lithuania has established an ambitious objective to become the technological center in the region of the Nordic and Baltic states. We are actively contributing to this objective by introducing the possibilities offered by the Startup Visa in third countries,” Roberta Rudokienė says.
This year, Startup Lithuania is planning to introduce the Startup Visa programme possibilities in such countries as Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Georgia, and Kazakhstan.
Currently, the following startup entrepreneurs develop their business under the Startup Visa: PanPay – a Chinese startup developing electronic payment services; Aesthete – a South Korean startup developing a smart e-commerce platform for Lithuanian designers to trade with Asian countries; Esteq – a Ukrainian startup developing cyber-security products, and Go Talent – a Ukrainian startup developing a smart application for HR supply and management; ArtApp – a Russian startup assessing pieces of art through a software application, and Travelplanner.me – a Russian startup developing a smart travel planning platform”.
The question when the first unicorn with over 1 billion of US dollars in value will appear in the country raises speculations for some time in Lithuanian start-up ecosystem. And even though there are many, not the one, candidates in Lithuanian system of innovative business, an example of a successful start-up, as noted by Anders Lentell, one of the speakers at the event “Startup Fair”, Swedish investor and founder of technology start-up DynaByte, is not just a unicorn label.
Lithuania will be launching ‘Startup Employee Visa’, a procedure for attracting, retaining and integrating foreign talents that will reduce barriers for the highly qualified professionals that startups need to come to Lithuania. This was established by the memorandum signed today by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation, the Ministry of the Interior and the Migration Department.