At Bird & Bird, the fintech team is 'incredibly knowledgeable and very well-connected', building on an established market reputation in both the payments and technology sectors. Department co-head Scott McInnes is 'excellent', leading alongside both Paul Hermant and Paris-based Cathie-Rosalie Joy (who is admitted to the Brussels bar), whose particular experience extends to virtual currencies, crowdfunding and insurtech. Current matters include advising easyJet on PSD2 provisions and assisting Booking.com with various digital payment regulation issues across Europe; other clients range from domestic banking groups to international corporates.
Fintech in Belgium
Scott McInnes; Paul Hermant; Cathie-Rosalie Joly
‘The Bird & Bird team are incredibly knowledgeable, very well-connected and their legal advice is always practical and commercial.‘
‘Scott McInnes is excellent. The team are very responsive, their advice is direct and to-the-point, and they are incredibly knowledgeable about the payments industry.‘
- Advising Stripe on payment regulatory issues in Europe, including PSD2.
- Supporting Mastercard in-house legal teams and their global subsidiaries around the world on a wide variety of regulatory, data protection, cybersecurity, M&A, competition law and commercial issues.
- Advising Paysafe on Benelux payment and e-money regulation, passporting, and anti-money laundering/KYC.
DLA Piper's fintech practice is known for an impressive 'speed of answer and understanding of tech problematics', while mixing its financial services and insurance regulatory nous with significant IT – as well as data protection – experience. The 'open and very efficient' Pierre Berger 'delivers high-quality advice', and leads a team adept at handling issues concerning blockchain technology providers and online platform set-up. Current matters include conducting crypto-related customer due diligence for AG Insurance, alongside advising Blox on an app allowing customers to buy or sell cryptocurrency. Another name of note is Michaël Heene, who specialises in acquisitions and joint ventures.
Other key lawyers:
‘Known for its diversity of competences, speed of answer and understanding of tech problematics.‘
‘A real pleasure to collaborate with Pierre Berger, who is open and very efficient.‘
‘Pierre Berger has a great experience in financial law and delivers high-quality advice.‘
‘Pierre Berger and Pauline Kustermans are well-known in the business of their customers, which makes it possible to give a good translation between juridical challenges and business challenges. They have a good understanding of what the entrepreneur wants and mainly think in terms of solutions instead of problems or impossibilities.‘
ABN AMRO Bank
Alpha Card CBA
Axa Bank Belgium
Bancontact Payconiq Company
Bank Degroof Petercam Asset Management
BNP Paribas Fortis
Insignia Global Solutions Limited
International Swaps and Derivatives Association
Kuwait Petroleum (Belgium) (Q8)
Ticket 2 the Future
- Advising Belfius Bank on its acquisition of a 30% stake in Skipr, which has developed a mobile application to plan, book and pay for trips and commutes (MaaS platform).
- Advising Kuwait Petroleum (Belgium) (Q8) on several mobility matters including its digital loyalty programme (Q8 Smiles), mobile fuelling solution and integration of a mobile payment solution in the Q8 Smiles app.
- Assisting Ozone Ventures and Libertim with the structuring and set-up of an alternative investment fund manager, along with an alternative investment fund investing in crypto-assets.
Simont Braun has 'a seamlessly-integrated team' advising on disruptive initiatives involving mobile payments, virtual currencies and blockchain applications. Philippe De Prez has 'a remarkable track record in this field', and alongside Joan Carette – who joined from Osborne Clarke in July 2020 – is recognised as a 'stand-out partner'. Current work includes assisting UK-based Ebury on its set-up and licensing as the first B2B provider to move to Belgium ahead of Brexit. De Prez and Carette jointly lead the practice, and former co-head Catherine Houssa retired.
Philippe De Prez; Joan Carette
Other key lawyers:
‘The fintech team at Simont Braun is highly knowledgeable, with a great industry knowledge and broad focus.‘
‘Philippe de Prez is a great, all-round financial regulatory lawyer. He has a strong focus on fintech and innovation within the financial sector and has built up a remarkable track record in this field. He is a very nice guy; flexible and easily accessible.‘
‘In a few years, Simont Braun has achieved an impressive position on the fintech scene in Belgium and beyond. Fintech and digital finance is really a core business for them. They act as a seamlessly-integrated team, truly understand how financial services work and can cover all aspects of digital finance. They are very responsive, pragmatic and creative, and have also developed good relationships with the regulator.‘
‘The firm is well-connected to industry organisations. The team is young, agile and extremely flexible.‘
‘Philippe De Prez and Thomas Derval combine a real start-up mentality with a deep understanding of financial consumer laws and client needs. And they always keep their cool.‘
‘Philippe De Prez and the team are great people to work with: very human and accessible. They explain in understandable terms what the legislation is requiring and give practical solutions to respect it while taking into account the maturity of the organisation of the client.‘
‘Extraordinary knowledge of the market; a strong team from associate to partner, very friendly to work with, very strong legal capacities, and extremely reliable and efficient.‘
‘Philippe De Prez, Joan Carette are reliable and very friendly, do efficient work and, above all, have a strong human attitude which reinforces the general trust built.‘
‘The team is number one for fintech matters in Belgium. They are proactive and hands-on, with a unique knowledge of the market and pragmatic advice.‘
‘Key individuals are Philippe De Prez and Joan Carette. Both are stand-out partners, while the addition of Joan makes the team unmatched in Belgium.‘
Ebury Partners UK
The European Commission
Belgian Mobile ID (app itsme)
- Assisting AION Bank with all aspects of its transformation into a digital and mobile-only bank.
- Assisting Transferwise, a UK-based unicorn active globally, in its application to become a payment institution in Belgium under the framework of its Brexit contingency plan.
- Advising Belgian Mobile ID on its landmark mobile identification project, which allows users of the itsme app to register as new clients with commercial entities, log in and authenticate themselves with those entities, and to remotely approve transactions.
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP's 'sizeable experience' benefits a fintech client roster ranging from domestic and international banks to multinational corporates. Recent matters include negotiating agreements for digital transformation programmes, as well as advising on the establishment of new Belgian payment institutions and licence application procedures relating to PSD2 directives. Antwerp-based global TMT head Filip Van Elsen and Sylvia Kierszenbaum, who splits her time between Brussels and Antwerp and specialises in financial regulatory matters, lead the team. IP and data protection expert Peter Van Dyck is a further name of note in Brussels.
Filip Van Elsen; Sylvia Kierszenbaum
Other key lawyers:
Peter Van Dyck
‘They have sizeable experience in this area and are well aware of the requirements. They have dealt with most of the key players of the industry and are therefore able to know how to handle them.‘
Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL
Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL's fintech practice combines the expertise of its IP, technology and financial services regulatory departments to offer assistance with alternative financing platforms, crowdfunding and PSD2 compliance. As part of an industry first, a team led by Michael Van Acker in Brussels and Olivier Van den Broeke in Antwerp is advising the Antwerp World Diamond Center on establishing a certified blockchain-based diamond exchange platform, allowing buyers and sellers of diamonds to exchange in the form of investments. Van Acker and Van den Broeke co-head the team with Brussels-based duo Daniel Fesler and Elisabeth Dehareng.
Michael Van Acker; Daniel Fesler; Elisabeth Dehareng; Olivier Van den Broeke
Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC)
Flawless Money Limited
- Advising ParkMobile ion obtaining a limited network exemption from the PSD2 licensing requirements for the set-up of an innovative car parking mobile payment solution.
- Assisting Deposit Solutions regarding regulatory aspects under Belgian laws and PSD2 requirements for a new savings deposits open banking solution.
- Providing legal advice for Alpha Card on card issuing payment services within the PSD2 guidelines, along with various regulatory matters.
The CMS fintech group advises financial institutions, payment service providers and insurance companies on all monetary or token regulatory aspects of Belgian and international fintech law. It also has experience with clients seeking to build digital payment frameworks and obtain consumer credit licences – ranging from governmental institutions and corporates to start-up and scale-up level. Benoît Vandervelde, who made partner in January 2020, leads the practice together with Tom De Cordier and Dirk Van Liedekerke. Clients include Inzmo, Novum Bank, Proximus and Xtrade Europe.
Benoît Vandervelde; Tom De Cordier; Dirk Van Liedekerke
- Assisting Qover on all its legal matters, from the development of new insurance products, full digitalisation of the process, licensing and partnership negotiations.
- Assisting Keyrock with its regulatory compliance assessment and funding in crypto-currency, as well as drafting of loans in crypto-currencies.
- Assisting Chubb with developing an insurance product to be integrated into the Bsit app, a booking system for baby-sitting purposes.
At Stibbe, Erik Valgaeren leads a team that prides itself on financial regulatory framework know-how and regularly advises outsourcing, cloud, AI, payment services and new digital platform start-up projects. A recent work highlight involved assisting the Nornickel Group, which contemplated building a blockchain platform to facilitate the digitisation and tokenisation of its precious metal commodities using tokens. Jan Peeters and Hans Van Bavel are the other key names of note, while senior associate Simon Landuyt's arrival from DLA Piper earlier in 2020 is also a significant boost to the practice offering.
Other key lawyers:
Simon Landuyt; Jan Peeters; Hans Van Bavel
Belgian National Bank
Bank Degroof Petercam
Bank of America
- Assisting Credendo with structuring its innovation strategy (including the incorporation of the start-up, drafting of several commercial, IT-related, loan and security agreements).
- Providing legal advice to Isabel on the processing and exchange of KYC data over a multi-stakeholder platform based on blockchain (KUBE).
- Assisting Bank Degroof Petercam with the negotiation and drafting of a business-critical contract for data centre services and cloud infrastructure.
In the words of a client, time.lex's 'combination of financial regulatory, data protection and IT specialists creates a strong fintech profile' for advising on PSD2 licensing and contracts-based work. Practice head Edwin Jacobs is 'extremely proactive and practical in his advice', and also 'knows his way around the market' in terms of GDPR compliance for payments platforms, mobile financial services (apps) and cybersecurity. He recently assisted European credit insurance group Credendo with its launch of a new service for online marketplaces.
‘Timelex has a unique position in the Belgium market. The combination of financial regulatory, data protection and IT specialists creates a strong fintech profile.‘
‘Edwin Jacobs is a true fintech lawyer. He knows his way around the market, advising different types of clients. His advice is hands-on and really tailored to the client’s needs.‘
‘A unique combination of legal and fintech knowledge makes them a trustworthy party to work with.‘
‘The team is impressive when it comes to efficiency and a result-oriented approach. They also ensure extremely high value for money.‘
‘Edwin Jacobs is a good lawyer, bringing personalised insights in a professional relationship. He is extremely proactive and practical in his advice.‘
‘Known for its market knowledge, good understanding of the regulations relevant to the industry and the ability to identify the relevant pertinent points for discussion. Edwin Jacobs has particularly good knowledge of this sector.‘
- Advising Twikey on payment services and various IT contracts.
- Assisting Candriam in negotiations with IT vendors for the provision of hardware, software and services in the financial sector.
- Assisting Together Connected (TOCO) in obtaining a payment services licence and with GDPR compliance.