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Worried over Brexit uncertainty, dozens of fintech companies have applied for licences in Lithuania to secure access to the EU market, the Baltic state's central bank

said Tuesday. Fintech refers to IT companies developing new software, applications or business models for the financial sector.

"We expect to receive around 100 applications from fintech companies this year," Marius Jurgilas, a member of the board at the central bank, told AFP.

The Lithuanian fintech cluster already includes over 110 licensed companies, second only to Britain in the European Union, while another 61 applications are under review, according to central bank figures.

The surge is driven by speedy processing and fears that British licences may lose rights to provide payment or e-money services to EU customers after Britain leaves the bloc as expected on March 29.

"Brexit is certainly encouraging those firms who need the EU market to seek locations and licences in EU states," Jurgilas said.

The recent newcomers in Lithuania, a eurozone nation of 2.8 million people, include Google's payment arm and Revolut, a British digital-only bank.

Jurgilas admitted the drive received attention from the "shadow economy" but said the central bank has stepped up efforts to prevent money laundering, including a new department for e-money supervision and closer ties with security agencies.

"The Lithuanian central bank is extremely cautious with persons who have links to tax havens," Jurgilas said.afp