FinTech

 

Sector Focus

Since its emergence into the mainstream over the last few years, the financial technology (‘FinTech’) sector has captured the interest and imagination of entrepreneurs, investors, governments and regulators, not to mention incumbent financial institutions and asset managers. The disruptive technologies and business models that lie at the heart of the FinTech revolution often raise a range of novel legal and regulatory issues.

The FinTech sector sits at the confluence of three of the four industry sectors on which Simmons & Simmons focuses. Our longstanding focus on the Financial Institutions, Asset Management and Investment Funds and TMT sectors has allowed us to combine our industry experience in these sectors with our specialist legal expertise, to create a market leading FinTech team. Our FinTech team is ranked in Band 1 in Legal 500 UK and is described by our clients as very knowledgeable and providing a great partner servicethat is available 24/7 and ‘genuinely adds value’. Our FinTech team was also awarded Islamic Finance News’ 2017 IFN Law Award for FinTech, find out more here.

Our FinTech team advises clients operating across the FinTech sector, from start-ups to some of the biggest names in the industry. We also advise businesses partnering with or investing in FinTech firms as well as financial institutions and asset managers developing their own FinTech products and services.

Thought Leaders

Thought leaders

We are recognised as thought leaders in the legal sector for FinTech. For example:

  • we are the only law firm to have been invited to join the Bank of England’s FinTech Community. The Bank formed the Community to enhance its ability to achieve its strategic aims to help the Bank harness FinTech innovations for central banking and to build its knowledge of these new technologies. The membership of the Community is limited by invitation to “those firms most relevant to the Bank’s remit and FinTech objectives

  • we were invited to be the Contributing Editors of Getting The Deal Through: FinTech, a new publication that answers 50 of the key legal and regulatory questions that arise for businesses operating in the FinTech sector. The second edition of the guide was published in October 2017 and now covers 23 jurisdictions. The Simmons & Simmons FinTech team authors the chapters for Belgium, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, UK and UAE – you can download a copy of the guide from elexica here

  • we are a Legal Partner to the Dubai International Financial Centre’s FinTech Hive. FinTech Hive is the Middle East’s first FinTech accelerator programme. Our role includes mentoring participants, providing a legal clinic (through the DIFC) and general advisory work around profile raising for this important DIFC initiative

  • we were also invited by the Singaporean regulator (MAS) to act as outreach partners for their first FinTech Hackcelerator initiative during their inaugural Singapore FinTech Festival in November 2016

  • the head of our FinTech team, Angus McLean, was invited to join the judging panel of FinTech industry experts for the Open Up Challenge. The Open Up Challenge is a £5m prize fund to reward next-generation services, apps and tools that will help UK small businesses get more from their banking. It is run by the leading UK Government-backed innovation think tank Nesta following recommendations arising out of the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s retail banking market investigation. Angus is the only lawyer on the judging panel.

Nurturing the FinTech lawyers of the future

  • in early 2016 we established a joint Student Support programme with the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), Queen Mary University, London to work in the area of FinTech and Regulatory Technology (RegTech). The objective of the initiative is to provide professional input to post-graduate Masters of Law (LLM) students on their FinTech and RegTech research dissertations. This includes holding separate introductory and research finding presentation events. The initiative brings together cutting edge academic and professional expertise in this key area of modern financial law and market development.

Experience

Our FinTech experience includes advising:

FinTech clients

  • Funding Circle on the establishment of a £350m share issuance programme and the listing of a newly incorporated fund on the LSE’s main market
  • Funding Circle on a £129m securitisation of peer-to-peer SME loans, a first for the European securitisation market
  • Funding Circle on a structured financing backed by loans originated on the Funding Circle platform. The senior funding was provided by the European Investment Bank and was entered into as part of the European Union’s mandate to increase lending to SMEs across Europe
  • LendInvest on the establishment and launch of its first retail bond (now listed on the London Stock Exchange)
  • Neat Limited, a Hong Kong based FinTech mobile current account provider, on its structuring and establishment including partnering with a provider of stored value facilities and Mastercard services and advising on customer terms and data protection issues
  • a number of FinTech 50 businesses including Cuvva, Suade, Railsbank and Osper on a range of projects
  • a number of FinTech firms on the UK FCA’s loan-based and equity-based crowdfunding regime, including the authorisation process and systems, structures, documents and processes
  • Sarwa, a hybrid automated investment management platform, in obtaining the first Innovation Testing Licence issued by the Dubai Financial Services Authority

Institutional clients

  • a major global financial institution on the development of a robo-advice platform, including on customer communications and documentation
  • a major global financial institution on the implementation of a new blockchain based payments and settlement system
  • the British Business Bank on its consultancy role for HM Treasury under The Small and Medium Sized Business (Finance Platforms) Regulations 2015 regarding the designation of alternative finance platforms
  • Safaricom on its open API programme including its approach to engaging integration partners to develop additional microfinance services and on the commercialisation of various integrated data sets
  • UAE Banks Federation on the successful opposition of a GCC patent which was impeding the roll out and development of the government-endorsed digital wallet programme funded by 16 banks in the UAE
  • Dubizzle, the Middle East's leading online classifieds business, on various FinTech projects including its development of a payment solution in the context of a new Central Bank framework around digital payment services
  • a number of banks on the provision of funding lines and loan facilities to alternative finance platforms
  • an alternative investment manager on a significant investment by way of participation as a platform lender in Zopa
  • GiffGaff (the Telefónica backed Mobile Virtual Network Operator) on its joint venture with peer-to-peer lending platform RateSetter to establish a bespoke credit process for purchasing mobile phones
  • a leading UK retail bank on the launch of an innovative peer-to-peer payment platform
  • a major retail bank on agreements for the provision of a wholesale foreign exchange conversion and deal aggregation platform and services
  • SEI Investments Company on the outsourcing of the development and support of its wealth management platform and on major tenders to provide its white labelled technology platform and back and middle office services to international banks and asset managers
  • an international investment bank on the FCA/PRA survey of financial institutions’ cyber security systems and procedures
  • a major UK retail bank on consumer and e-commerce regulatory compliance for banking apps
  • numerous global financial institutions on their labour dispatch and outsourcing structures in relation to PRC regulatory requirements for the establishment of their software development / IT companies in the PRC

M&A

  • Gocompare.com Group on the acquisition of a minority stake in Dubai based FinTech company Souqalmal.com, the leading digital comparison business in the Middle East
  • HSBC’s strategic FinTech investment team on the acquisition of a minority stake in data analytics firm Quantexa
  • Metro AG on its equity investment in Yoyo Wallet as part of its £12m Series B funding round
  • Augmentum Capital on investments in Seedrs, Zopa, SRL Global, Borro and Bullion Vault
  • Oak Investment Partners and Merritech Capital on their investment into Wonga.com
  • FinTech firm Envizage on its seed funding round
  • Scotiabank on the acquisition of a prime brokerage trading platform and the subsequent sale to, and licence back of the same trading platform from, a global financial services IT vendor.

FinTech Fund

The Simmons & Simmons FinTech Fund

As a result of our experience of working with businesses across the FinTech industry, we understand how difficult it can be for early-stage FinTech businesses to obtain expert legal advice. We also understand how crucially important receiving the right kind of advice can be to the long-term prospects of those businesses. This led to us launching a dedicated £100,000 fund in May 2016 to help promising FinTech start-ups solve the challenging legal or regulatory problems that could otherwise slow down their development or, in some cases, prevent them from getting off the ground altogether. This was the first fund of its kind offered in the legal industry in the UK. More information about the first fund is available here.

The receipts for the second cohort of Simmons & Simmons FinTech Fund were officially announced at our event in September 2017. The successful businesses are:

  • BestX - a software company providing independent trade technology and TCA analytics to enable clients to achieve and demonstrate Best Execution
  • Laka- a bicycle insurance product earning revenues whilst acting in their customers’ best interest: settling their claims
  • Xelix - a SaaS tool that facilitates the process of early settlement discount between large corporates and their suppliers
  • Feedstock - a research analytics, valuation and compliance solution for the asset management industry.
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    Hear more about these exciting startups from their founders by watching our short video:

     
     

    Last year’s fund has already proved invaluable to the first cohort of recipient companies. Watch the short video below to hear their thoughts:

  • Alterest - bringing transparency to non-bank credit markets.
  • Cuvva - hourly car insurance on-demand.
  • Railsbank - banking as a platform.
  • Tallysticks - using blockchain to automate invoicing processes.
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