Lithuania has further cemented itself as one of the world’s hubs for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and is now progressing towards claiming the same reputation for blockchain adoption.
With this newfound drive, Lithuania’s public services are now contemplating the use of blockchain. Moreover, companies in more ‘traditional’ sectors are also planning on adopting the technology, as was mentioned by two sources in the public and private sectors.
“We believe that blockchain adoption brings us a great opportunity to run digital transformation for the governmental sector. As for the next steps, we are planning to review a pipeline of governmental projects for the public services and see if blockchain can bring additional value here. I think this is going to be an exciting exercise,” Elijus Čivilis, Vice-Minister of Economy, said.
The vice-minister also alluded to a project between the Bank of Lithuania and the government. It would aim to collaborate with local and global blockchain communities, with the end goal of fully exploiting the technology and bolstering confidence in the startup community.
Lithuania has a history of embracing such technology, being one of the first EU countries to develop a comprehensive set of guidelines for ICOs. Earlier in the year, Lithuania partnered with Hyperledger, marking the beginning of an effort to promote blockchain technologies across multiple industries. Alongside this, the government created an internal blockchain SME network to pilot projects, one of which is a blockchain-backed system to help companies become established in the EU.
The Lithuanian Central Bank also issued a statement, showing its interest in the development of blockchain associated projects.
“The Bank of Lithuania is working on the LBChain sandbox that aims to create platform as a service for fintech companies looking to experiment with the blockchain technology. The bank is developing the platform in partnership with IBM, Inntec, Deloitte, and Tieto. LBChain is estimated to go live in the end of 2019 – beginning of 2020,” Jekaterina Govina, adviser to the board member at the Bank of Lithuania, told Cryptonews.com.
Lithuania has also seen a “notable shift toward projects employing the STO (Security Token Offering) as opposed to the trend we saw in 2017”, according to Eglė Nemeikštytė, CEO of the Blockchain Centre Vilnius, which launched in January this year. The centre attracts sponsors from around the world, and the startups it houses are of multiple nationalities, including British, Polish, Singaporean, Lithuanian and Canadian.
Ms Nemeikštytė also mentioned that businesses in the energy and transport sectors are increasingly looking to learn more about blockchain, and how they could use the technology to maximise efficiency and profits in their processes. Blockchain Centre Vilnius has now hosted over fifty events, providing education and networking opportunities, as well as taking part in multiple discussions around the globe.
The CEO added that “Lithuania is showing itself as a country of service providers, miners, developers and blockchain companies as opposed to a country of traders and crypto users. When we look at the difference in crypto usage in Asian markets, the opposite is almost true, this provides us with vast opportunities and scope for collaboration and investment”. Companies such as Lympo, who allow people to share, monetize and aggregate their data from mobile health apps and wearables, and Debitum Network, a platform that offers users the ability to invest in SMEs in either crypto currencies or fiat, have all launched early stage BETAs or completed their projects in good time.
Research done by Luno, a UK-based ETH and BTC with around two million global registered accounts, has found that 82% of Lithuania’s adult population has heard of Bitcoin, and of those, 3.8% own one or more cryptocurrencies. Awareness of crypto in Lithuania is growing, though not without obstacles. Almost 30% of those who were aware of Bitcoin stated that they would be inclined to use it, if only it were not so hard to get started.
Malena Golebiewska, Luno’s head of the Eastern Europe region, mentioned that “The official position of the government or financial institutions plays a major role in forming or maintaining confidence in digital currencies. Also, price stability and lower risks would increase confidence in digital currencies”. Ms Golebiewska is also a speaker at the Switch! Conference, the Baltic region’s biggest tech and entrepreneurship event.