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Will it be easier for Fintech companies to open bank accounts?

In recent years, the number of licences issued to payment as well as e-money institutions in Lithuania has increased significantly – the said licences form the basis for the majority of Fintech companies to operate. With the increase in the number of these licences Fintech companies have been facing a practical issue: banks refuse to open payment accounts for them without disclosing the actual reason of such rejection. It could be argued, that banks may be reluctant to establish business relations with Fintech companies because of ML/TF risk that clients of payment and e-money institutions may pose and the liability that banks could face under the ML/TF regulation which nowadays is getting stricter and stricter (AMLD5 as an example). However, one should not overlook another, much more subtle, reason – banks are unwilling to open bank accounts for their competitors.

This situation should change in the short run. On 1 August 2018, the new version of the Law on Payments will enter into force. This law explicitly establishes a right of the payment and e-money institutions to apply to a bank for the opening of a payment account and to use it for the unhindered and efficient provision of payment services. Having refused to open a payment account for these payments market participants, a bank will be required to immediately notify this to the Bank of Lithuania and to state the reasons for the refusal. It is expected that the aforesaid provisions of the Law on Payments are likely to reduce the number of unfounded refusals to open payment accounts for Fintech companies.

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