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Emerging Europe: Lithuania goes all in on fintech

Of all the cities lining up to poach London’s business post-Brexit, Vilnius might seem the most unlikely. Yet the Lithuanian capital has much to offer financial firms, from liveability and local talent to cutting-edge fintech regulation. Euromoney visits a small city with big ambitions.

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Leafy, low-rise and elegant, Vilnius is relatively free from traffic

Ever since the UK’s Brexit vote in June, cities across the continent have been lining up to lure financial firms away from London. All the usual suspects – Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin, Amsterdam – have rushed to make the case for becoming Europe’s new banking centre.

One of the very first pitches, however, came from a more unlikely source. A week after the referendum, hundreds of UK-based banks, hedge funds and fintech firms received a letter from a Lithuanian poker player-turned MEP.

“You must be thinking about where to relocate your EU operations,” wrote Antanas Guoga – or Tony G, as he is known at the tables. “I would like to invite you to explore Vilnius.” And, for anyone who was unsure where that was, he helpfully added: “The capital of Lithuania.”

At first glance, a former Soviet city of half a million people in the northeastern corner of Europe seems an unlikely spot for a global financial hub. Yet, as Guoga pointed out, Vilnius has already attracted a clutch of big tech and banking names.

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