Fintech in Belgium
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP, whose practice has both a national and international dimension, is at the forefront of the latest developments in the fintech arena. Its diverse client roster includes domestic and international banks, early-stage technology companies from IP-rich sectors and multinational corporates. Jointly led by global TMT head Filip Van Elsen and Sylvia Kierszenbaum, the multidisciplinary team provides coordinated advice on financial regulatory, corporate, commercial and cybersecurity issues, among others. Van Elsen and others assisted the Bank of Cyprus with negotiating a multifaceted agreement with IBM for a digital transformation programme; aspects of the agreement concerned outsourcing, software development and a digital factory. In addition, Van Elsen is also advising the client on a digital payments service. Kierszenbaum and senior associate Axel de Backer are assisting various London-based e-money and payment institutions with all aspects of setting up fintech businesses in Belgium to offset the impact of Brexit. Peter Van Dyck, who is knowledgeable about technology-related IP and data protection issues, also has experience of digital transformation projects in the financial services sector.
Other key lawyers:
Bank Of Cyprus
Various e-money and payment institutions
A provider of multi-bank internet services
An international credit institution
- Advised a provider of multi-bank internet services on the application of PSD2 and other regulatory issues.
- Advised an international credit institution on GDPR and PSD2 issues connected with the terms and conditions for clients making use of the Apple Pay function.
Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL is embedded in the Belgian financial services sector and fintech arena, as is evidenced by its handling of complex, cutting-edge assignments for fintech start-ups and scale-ups, financial institutions, and domestic and multinational companies. The specialist fintech team comprises of experts from the IP/tech and financial services regulatory practices. Its work spans areas such as blockchain platforms, initial coin offerings (ICOs), alternative financing platforms (including crowdfunding) and e-money, among others. Key figures include Michael Van Acker and associate Olivier Van den broeke, who recently advised ParkMobile (a provider of mobile payment solutions for car parking services) on obtaining a limited network exemption from PSD2 licensing requirements. In 2018, another highlight involved advising Robinhood Securities (a US app-based stockbroking entity) on the potential establishment of a Belgian licensed MiFID II investment firm to conduct retail stockbroking activities. Elisabeth Dehareng, who has particular experience of the payment services space, is an expert in privacy, data protection, IP, IT and e-commerce matters. Daniel Fesler and counsel Robby Houben are also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Flawless Money Ltd.
OSA Decentralized Ltd.
EGT International Corp.
- Assisted Housers with the regulatory aspects of the potential set-up of a crowdfunding platform in Belgium.
- Advised Coinstar on the regulatory environment in Belgium in connection with payment services and e-money activities, as well as the regulatory aspects of anti-money laundering.
- Assisted Deposit Solutions with the regulatory aspects under Belgian (open) banking laws and PSD2 requirements in relation to the offering of a new and innovative open banking solution for savings deposits in Belgium.
- Assisted various clients – such as Uniti Sweden, Neuromation, OSA Decentralized Ltd. and EGT International Corp. – with the Belgian regulatory aspects of initial coin offerings (ICOs).
- Advised Flawless Money Ltd on various financial regulatory issues connected with the offering of e-money wallets to retail consumers as a form of payment, and also the adding of this product onto Google Play.
Bird & Bird's long-established reputation in the technology sector makes it a first choice for many clients. In Brussels, the team is particularly well-known for its strengths in the payments sector, where it provides comprehensive advice on the gamut of competition, regulatory and commercial legal issues. Clients include international banks, corporates and payment services providers. Scott McInnes and Paul Hermant advise fast-growing San Francisco-based technology company Stripe on its payments regulatory issues in Europe, including those relating to PSD2. Another name to note is Cathie-Rosalie Joly, who is based in Paris, but also admitted to the Brussels bar. She advises fintech clients on financial regulation, data protection and cybersecurity.
Mastercard / Vocalink
BNP Paribas (France) and BNP Paribas Fortis (Belgium)
- Provides support to Mastercard (both Mastercard Europe and Mastercard International, the US mother company) on a wide variety of topics, including the EU Interchange Fee Regulation, PSD2, competition law, cybersecurity and the distribution of insurance services from a regulatory and contractual point of view.
- Advises Paysafe on financial regulatory and compliance matters.
- Advised BNP Paribas (France) on payments regulation, in particular the regulation applicable to commercial cards in various EU countries. It also advises BNP Paribas Fortis (Belgium) on various PSD2 questions, including the issue of “access to payment accounts”.
- Assists EasyJet with various payments regulatory issues, including those concerning PSD2.
DLA Piper's fintech practice is a major part of the firm's wider financial services and insurance practice, which covers matters ranging from finance transactions to regulatory advice (including authorisation and compliance matters, products advice and investigations/enforcement). The team underwent significant expansion in 2018, when Pierre Berger and a team of six lawyers joined from Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL. The hires have put the firm on a stronger footing to serve a wide range of participants in the fintech space, including financial institutions, global technology companies and fintech disrupters. Berger's own expertise in relation to fintech projects includes financial regulation, product development and strategic collaborations. Elsewhere, the firm's multidisciplinary strengths enable it to provide corporate support to fintech clients; in a related development Michaël Heene joined from Linklaters. In addition, the intellectual property and technology team assists clients with all aspects of IP exploitation and monetisation, as well as infringement proceedings. Johan Moureaux, who heads up the finance and projects team, is another key figure. In a recent highlight, Berger, associate Isabelle Van Biesen and lawyer Stéphanie Liebaert assisted Bancontact Payconiq Company with the creation of a scheme for contactless payments.
ABN AMRO Bank N.V.
Bancontact Payconiq Company
BNP Paribas Fortis NV
Ingenico Group (formerly Ogone)
International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA)
Kuwait Petroleum (Belgium) N.V. (Q8)
Lukoil Belgium NV
MeDirect Bank NV
Qred Företagslån AB
RES Prepaid BVBA
Tioga Capital – Libertim BVBA and Ozone Ventures BVBA
- Advised ABN AMRO on the set-up and implementation of an e-voting platform to be used by Belgian companies for the organisation of their general meetings.
- Assisted MeDirect Bank with the development of its digital mortgage lending activity in Belgium and the Netherlands.
- Is assisting Unified Post with the structuring and set-up of its digitised finance brokerage model in the Benelux region.
- Is assisting POM with the regulatory structuring of its fintech product offering and also a licensing dispute with the NBB, the Belgian regulator.
- Advised Satellic on the offering of new fintech products and the possible application of e-money/payment services regulations.
Simont Braun has had significant involvement in the fintech arena since its establishment of a specialist digital finance team in 2014. Under the joint leadership of Catherine Houssa and recently promoted partner Philippe De Prez, the firm has proven itself as one of the very leading players in the market, having advised on groundbreaking projects involving areas such as alternative lending, micro savings, robo-advisory, blockchain, ICOs and virtual currencies. In addition, since 2016, it has handled about half of all licence applications in Belgium from payment services and e-money institutions. Having assisted the client with successfully applying for a payment service licence with the Belgian National Bank in 2017, De Prez and Thomas Derval are acting for Ebury UK Limited on a group restructuring and the opening of more than branches in other EU member states. Further underlining its traction in the market, the firm is a founding member of fintech Belgium, which is the first and largest community of fintech companies nationally.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team is highly responsive and proactive. A very smooth and seamless cooperation. I work with Philippe De Prez on a regular basis for pan-European fintech matters. Philippe is very pragmatic and very business-driven‘
‘Catherine Houssa is our main contact at Simont Braun. She has a very comprehensive understanding of both legal and regulatory issues. Her excellent contacts with the National Bank of Belgium makes her a great advisor for all regulatory matters‘
‘Simont Braun has been able to build an interesting all-round fintech practice in a relatively short period of time. The time and effort put in by some members of the group to launch a Belgian crowdfunding sector association is remarkable. We have mutual clients in the fintech payments sector and have found the team to be very approachable, cooperative and knowledgeable. Our experience with the group is that it is pragmatic and on the ball‘
‘Simont Braun is THE specialist firm in fintech in Belgium‘
‘Good level of knowledge of financial regulations in Belgium. Good level of involvement in the fintech community and exposure to fintech projects. Engagement structure and terms can be adapted to startups‘
Ebury Partners UK Ltd
Banca Monte Paschi Belgio
- Is acting for WorldRemit on its application as a payment institution in Belgium in the context of its Brexit contingency plan.
- Acted for Viva Wallet, the biggest fintech company in Greece, on the incorporation of a branch in Belgium and the rollout of new products there as part of a wider strategy to offer its innovative payment solutions in other countries.
- Is assisting Facebook Payments with queries concerning payment services and e-money.
- Acted for Brussels-based fintech company mozzeno on the launch of the first Belgian digital platform, which enables individuals to participate indirectly in the funding of other individuals’ consumer loans.
- Is advising Belgian fintech company Koalaboox on a licence application with the National Bank of Belgium as an account information service provider.
time.lex has a niche focus on IT, IP and privacy and data protection, and offers coverage of a broad range of legal, commercial and regulatory issues, with Edwin Jacobs at the helm. Jacobs has experience of the fintech and payments industry, having previously served as a General Counsel at Belgian e-services provider Isabel. Brexit has been a major driver of work for the firm: Jacobs assists international fintech companies with establishing operations in Brussels and handles their associated licence applications before the National Bank of Belgium. His workload also includes advising on GDPR compliance in the context of marketing and payments matters, mobile financial services (apps), IT contracting and cybersecurity. He assisted open platform Juru with drafting the terms and conditions of its platform and license contract.
‘Time.lex is my go-to fintech firm in Belgium. It delivers excellent service, knowledge of the market and also leads on themes like data protection. Edwin Jacobs has a deep understanding of the laws relevant to fintech and also really knows what fintech companies expect in terms of legal service‘
‘Edwin Jacobs is very knowledgeable, pragmatic and cost-efficient‘
- Is acting for Candriam Investors Group (www.candriam.com ) on negotiations with IT vendors over the provision of hardware, software and services in the financial sector.
- Is advising Mesh Payments (a payment platform based in the USA and Israel) on its GDPR compliance.
- Is advising AstroPay on the roll-out of payment services in the EU (payment services, data protection, consumer protection, coordination of Member State national regulators, etc).
- Is advising Twikey (the Benelux market leader in relation to recurring direct debit payments) on ongoing IT contracting and payment services issues.
- Advised Tipalti on online payment law compliance across the entire EU, as well as GDPR compliance.