Next Generation Partners

Firms To Watch: Fintech: foreign firms

Elevated to the partnership in March 2021, Hong Kong-based fintech transactions specialist Simon Hawkins at Latham & Watkins LLP leads both the firm's Asia and global fintech industry group, in addition to being co-chair of its blockchain and cryptocurrency task force.

Fintech: foreign firms in China

Baker McKenzie FenXun

The Greater China fintech team at Baker McKenzie FenXun stands out for its enviable global reach, strong regulatory authority connections, and track record with emerging companies and banks/financial institutions. Clients include global digital leaders, technology incubators and start-ups and it works across a broad range of sub-sectors, including crowdfunding, e-payment platforms, cryptocurrencies and peer-to-peer lending. In Hong Kong, global financial services regulatory chair, Karen Man, advises on structuring innovative service and business offerings in the fintech space; Paolo Sbuttoni‘s practice covers IT contracts/outsourcing, privacy/data protection, e-commerce, and telecoms/internet-related regulatory issues; and Grace Fung is a key financial services regulatory partner. In early 2022, virtual assets specialist Joy Lam joined the Hong Kong office from Sidley Austin, while on the mainland, FenXun Partners‘ counsel Zhenyu Ruan advises on major deals involving companies’ fintech issues.

Practice head(s):

Karen Man

Other key lawyers:

Zhenyu Ruan; Paolo Sbuttoni; Grace Fung; Joy Lam; Dominic Edmondson

Key clients

Jones Lang LaSalle

Work highlights

  • Advised Jones Lang LaSalle, on China legal and regulatory licensing issues, and the structuring of an innovative digital offering.
  • Advised Instacart on its acquisition of Caper.ai, a technology company that deploys AI-powered smart shopping carts and checkout counters for retailers, grocers and convenience stores.

Clifford Chance LLP

Clifford Chance LLP‘s mainland China-based fintech practice advises on the commercial, transactional, regulatory and contentious issues faced by both established and emerging fintech sector players. The team is sought out for fintech-related projects across key areas, such as smart contracts, tokenisation, and stablecoins/central bank digital currencies and is considered a ‘one-stop shop‘ for blockchain and cryptocurrency work. It is also active in relation to non-fungible tokens, robo-advice, eKYC (electronic Know Your Customer), artificial intelligence and insurtech. Kelly Gregory‘s recent track record includes advising Tencent on several private investments in the fintech space; co-managing partner Terence Foo is a transactions expert; and Tim Wang is a cross-border M&A and capital markets expert. In Hong Kong, Kimi Liu‘s ‘dedication to tailoring practical legal solutions to clients’ needs is vital‘; Ling Ho is Asia IP head and consultant Brian Harley has a longstanding focus on fintech work.

Practice head(s):

Kelly Gregory; Rocky Mui

Other key lawyers:

Terence Foo; Tim Wang; Ling Ho; Brian Harley

Testimonials

‘Clifford Chance has leading blockchain and crypto industry legal experts, not only in Hong Kong but in other key jurisdictions where clients require strategic support on complex legal matters. This alone uniquely sets Clifford Chance apart from its peers as a one-stop-shop for legal advice on complex, cross-jurisdictional blockchain and crypto regulations.’

‘Apart from the usual qualities that clients would expect from top Magic Circle firm lawyers, Rocky Mui distinguishes himself from other lawyers for his in-depth knowledge of blockchain and crypto industry matters, and his understanding of clients’ businesses; and his dedication to tailoring practical legal solutions to clients’ needs is vital in a competitive, fast-moving (yet full of regulatory uncertainties) industry.’

Key clients

Tencent

Contour

Futu Securities

Hex Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Tencent, as the existing shareholder of Nu Holdings (Nubank), on its participation in two rounds of Series G fundraising by Nubank.
  • Advised Tencent (as lead investor) on Scalapay’s Series B equity financing round.
  • Advising several Hong Kong financial institutions on PRC and Hong Kong data and privacy law issues, as well as financial licensing regulatory matters.

Hogan Lovells International LLP

Well known for its advice to financial institutions, owners of robo-advisers and alternative lending companies, Hogan Lovells International LLP‘s Greater China practice also acts for clients that are active in relation to blockchains, AI, and payments and money transfers. The firm is additionally in association with the PRC’s Fujian Fidelity Law Firm, through which it provides integrated international and local advice to clients conducting business in China. In Hong Kong, the broad practice of Asia-Pacific regulatory head Mark Parsons includes commercial and regulatory work in the fintech space; Andrew McGinty focuses on the TMT, venture capital, real estate, life sciences and insurance sectors; and counsel Tommy Liu specialises in strategic transaction structuring and contractual arrangements for TMT-related projects. Cross-border transactions expert Lu Zhou is a key partner in Beijing.

Other key lawyers:

Mark Parsons; Andrew McGinty; Lu Zhou; Tommy Liu

Linklaters

Always there no matter what‘, Linklaters‘ ‘top-notch fintech practice‘ adopts a cross-practice, cross-jurisdictional approach to advising on matters involving technology in finance. Financial institutions, challenger banks and infrastructure providers, along with technology companies building financial services offerings, routinely mandate the practice for the transactional and regulatory aspects of innovative fintech projects. The firm can also provide enviable PRC law capabilities, through its joint operation with Zhao Sheng Law Firm in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. In Hong Kong, Carl Fernandes re-joined the firm in 2022 from Latham & Watkins LLP to head up the Greater China financial regulation group; a ‘real dealmakerAlex Bidlake acts for technology companies, financial sponsors and financial institutions; Sumit Indwar is a regulatory expert and counsel Albert Yuen is the TMT head. On the mainland, counsel Alex Roberts (‘always the first person to call‘) is a financial services sector-related corporate and technology specialist.

Practice head(s):

Carl Fernandes; Sumit Indwar; Albert Yuen; Alex Bidlake

Other key lawyers:

Alex Roberts; Kishore Bhindi

Testimonials

‘A highly specialised technology team that proactively helps dig out the points in agreements that may not be favourable to clients, guiding them through negotiations with counterparts, while maximising the benefits.

‘The technical team has deep knowledge and experience, and explains all scenarios within the agreement very clearly, so that all parties can understand it well and accept the terms.’

‘Always there no matter what – a 24/7, extremely professional, knowledgeable and top-notch fintech practice all round. Fantastic – don’t use anybody else.’

‘The partners and associates have been extremely responsive, and were able to navigate both the legal and commercial landscapes for the crypto space in Hong Kong and Singapore. In addition, they were attentive to the billing parameters and worked towards a reasonable solution.’

‘Very well coordinated (even when in different countries) in relation to addressing cross-border concerns over the many legal issues in the developing crypto space, as well as the regulatory requirements of different jurisdictions.’

‘Alex Bidlake stands out for being indispensable to transactions – a real dealmaker.’

‘Counsel Alex Roberts is extremely knowledgeable and professional – always the first person to call.’

Key clients

Bond Connect

Xero

Bank of East Asia

LRQA Group

ASIFMA

Work highlights

  • Advised Bond Connect on a joint venture arrangement with CFETS, in relation to the ePrime electronic bond issuance system.
  • Advised Xero, a New Zealand-domiciled, Australian Securities Exchange-listed cloud accounting software provider, on various financial services regulatory, technology and commercial issues.
  • Advised The Bank of East Asia on the sale of its life insurance unit, BEA Life, to AIA, and the formation of a 15-year exclusive bancassurance partnership with AIA for Hong Kong and mainland China.

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy LLP‘s Greater China practice fuses strong technology sector credentials with enviable financial regulatory expertise. Representative work for the fintech team ranges from advising on blockchains, cybersecurity, cryptocurrency and AI, to big data analytics and initial coin offerings. Clients additionally benefit from the firm’s ability to provide both PRC and international legal services, as a result of its joint operation with Lang Yue Law Firm in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. As part of Hong Kong-based Victor Ho‘s assistance with the development of clients’ China-related strategies, his practice covers M&A, antitrust, data, digitalisation, partnerships and IP and Beijing partner Benjamin Crawford is experienced in transactions involving the financial services, TMT and ENR sectors. Charlotte Robins leads the firm’s Hong Kong regulatory practice.

Other key lawyers:

Victor Ho; Benjamin Crawford; Charlotte Robins

Ashurst

Ashurst‘s ‘lawyers provide solutions very quickly‘. The firm’s multi-jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary fintech practice benefits from the firm’s robust digital economy credentials, and it routinely works alongside the firm’s banking and financial regulatory teams. In Hong Kong, Joshua Cole has longstanding experience in fintech and TMT matters in Asia, including cross- border M&A, joint ventures, outsourcings and regulatory compliance; and Ben Hammond, who ‘helps navigate difficult situations with technically strong legal analysis‘, heads up the non-contentious financial services regulatory offering in Hong Kong. Further support at partner level is provided by Patrick Phua, the firm’s finance practice head in China. At counsel level, Hoi Tak Leung‘s recent track record includes significant work in the virtual assets/cryptocurrency space, particularly in relation to non-fungible tokens; and Tracy Wang in Beijing has extensive fintech sector expertise.

Practice head(s):

Joshua Cole; Patrick Phua; Ben Hammond

Other key lawyers:

Hoi Tak Leung; Tracy Wang

Testimonials

‘Ashurst is able to deliver expertise in the areas of banking and regulatory.

‘Unlike some other firms in the market, the advice is always technically robust and gives clients the confidence that they could withstand potential challenges.’

‘Ashurst works very quickly and professionally. First of all, it is characterised by its extensive substantive knowledge, supported by practical experience. The lawyers can find a solution to any matter, even if it is very complicated. Secondly, the lawyers provide solutions very quickly – with them clients can feel safe in running a business.’

Ben Hammond helps navigate difficult situations with technically strong legal analysis.

Key clients

Tyme Group

Tencent

WeChat Pay

ByteDance

Divit

DBS

HKbitEX

Tung Wah Group of Hospitals

Work highlights

  • Advised Tyme Group, a global digital banking group, on establishing a joint venture with JG Group to create a digital bank.
  • Assisting Tencent with the international expansion of WeChat and WeChat Pay across Asia and internationally.
  • AssistedDivit, a start-up, buy-now-pay-later provider, with its entrance on the Hong Kong market.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper‘s Hong Kong-based fintech practice is ‘very familiar with blockchain technology, decentralised finance and cryptocurrency‘. The group acts across a range of matters, including payments, robo advisory, alternative payments, security and digital assets, and the operation of crypto-currency exchanges and other online platforms. In late 2021, Kristi Swartz, instrumental in developing Hong Kong’s fintech ecosystem, joined from now-closed Swartz, Binnersley & Associates, to head the fintech practice; and within the associate pool, Winson Lau is a fintech and digital assets practitioner, whose workload frequently involves analysing regulatory licensing and compliance requirements and Angele Lok‘s experience includes advising on tokenisation and related blockchain matters. During 2022, of counsel Alice Li, an emerging and disruptive technologies expert, was recruited from Deacons, while former Asia head of the firm’s global technology and fintech sector initiative, Scott Thiel , moved to lead TOKO, the firm’s digital asset creation engine.

Practice head(s):

Kristi Swartz

Other key lawyers:

Winson Lau; Angele Lok; Alice Li; Cissy Ko

Testimonials

‘The team is very familiar with blockchain technology, decentralised finance and cryptocurrency, as well as their application to current securities law in different countries.’

‘Relevant knowledge in this area, saving clients a lot of time and effort.’

‘Kristi Swartz is very responsive and able to guide us properly, while connecting with the right people to get the legal work done within the time frame.’

Key clients

Calcite

Zheng He Capital Management

Shyft Network

LORA Technologies

Firework Games Entertainment

MV Art

Dentsu UK

MOBOX Digital Co

Work highlights

  • Advised Calcite on one of Asia’s first tokenisations of private debt.
  • Acted for Zheng He Capital Management on the creation and structuring of a new fund to facilitate the tokenisation of real-world assets, namely an art collection.
  • Assisting Shyft Network, in collaboration with TOKO, with on-chain due diligence verification for virtual asset service providers.

Eversheds Sutherland

Routinely acting for large institutional clients and fast-growing unicorns, Eversheds Sutherland‘s Hong Kong-based Asia technology group assists with a broad-spectrum of fintech-related matters. The team is particularly focused on strategic and bet-the-farm technology and digital transformation projects, which lie at the intersection of financial services and technology. Its recent experience includes several high-end, regulated fintech transactions; and the group is regularly sought out by international banks and global technology organisations in relation to virtual banks, merchants, technology service providers, and payment providers and processors. It is also increasingly active on behalf of multinational financial services, retail and technology companies, in relation to core banking and payments platforms. Fintech transactions specialist Rhys McWhirter leads the firm’s fintech and technology practice group across Asia, while the practice of Asia banking and finance head Michael Yau also covers fintech matters. Of counsel Frankie Tam is a technology specialist.

Practice head(s):

Rhys McWhirter; Michael Yau

Other key lawyers:

Frankie Tam; Philip Chow; Kenny Tam

Key clients

Thought Machine Group

Ping Pong Global Payments

Mox Bank

Blackhawk Network

AXA Asia

China CITIC Bank International

Work highlights

  • Advised Thought Machine Group on a number of strategic technology arrangements throughout Asia, which involved the licensing of its core banking platform, Vault, to various financial institutions.
  • Advised international unicorn Ping Pong Global Payments on its charge card, merchant acquiring and payment facilitator businesses in Hong Kong.
  • Advised Blackhawk Network on its gift card and reward card distribution offering and associated data privacy regulatory matters in multiple APAC jurisdictions.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP‘s cross-practice Greater China team focuses on fintech-related financial services regulatory issues, IPOs, investments and disputes. Acting for a a wide spectrum of fintech clients in the region, the group assists with all fintech lifecycle stages and a major part of its non-contentious advisory work concerns the regulatory aspects of cryptocurrency exchanges, stored value facilities, digital assets, initial coin offerings, financial services licensing, and payments and remittance systems. In Hong Kong, Hannah Cassidy, the Asia financial services regulatory head since 2021, represents fintech companies, financial institutions, and listed companies in high-stakes disputes, as well as in relation to non-contentious matters and Tommy Tong is a corporate finance, M&A, regulatory compliance and governance expert. During 2021, former fintech practice head William Hallat and former of counsel James Gong joined Gibson Dunn and Bird & Bird, respectively.

Practice head(s):

Hannah Cassidy

Other key lawyers:

Tommy Tong; Natalie Curtis

Key clients

Lagardère Travel Retail

China International Capital Corporation Hong Kong Securities

CMBC International Capital

Work highlights

  • Advised travel retailer Lagardère Travel Retail on a strategic agreement with several investors, including e-commerce giant JD.com.
  • Advised CICC, as sole sponsor of brand e-commerce retail and wholesale solutions provider UNQ Holdings’ HK$364m mainboard listing on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.
  • Advised CMBC Securities Company and Guotai Junan Securities (Hong Kong), as joint global coordinators of online marketing solutions provider UJU Holding’s HK$800m Main Board listing on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.

Morrison Foerster

Morrison Foerster‘s dedicated fintech team in China is a go-to practice for corporations that prioritise the development of proprietary technology solutions. It also acts for strategic investors who regard investments in emerging technology companies as key growth drivers. Clients additionally benefit from the firm’s ability to leverage the firm’s strong venture capital and private equity funds credentials. Heading the China fintech practice from Hong Kong, Gordon Milner is a specialist in cross-border technology projects and Asia private equity group co-head, Thomas Chou, is also active in the technology/fintech space. In Shanghai, Chuan Sun works closely with multinational corporations, large SOEs and start-ups from the fintech/TMT world, while the practice of Beijing and Shanghai managing partner Paul McKenzie includes telecoms regulatory compliance, data privacy and cybersecurity. The associates to note are Hong Kong-based Zooey Chen, Gigi Yuen, Sarah Wang and Tyler Xiu.

Practice head(s):

Thomas Chou; Paul McKenzie; Gordon Milner; Chuan Sun

Other key lawyers:

Zooey Chen; Gigi Yuen; Sarah Wang; Tyler Xiu

Key clients

Alibaba Group

Softbank Vision Fund

Roblox

Alpha Fintech

LeapXpert

Work highlights

  • Advised Roblox on its joint venture with Tencent (Luobu) and the establishment and launch of the Roblox online game platform in China.
  • Advised an institutional investor, as a longstanding investor in Grab Holdings (Grab), in relation to Grab’s merger with special purpose acquisition company Altimeter Growth Corp.
  • Advised Alpha Fintech, a next-gen payments technology company, on its acquisition by PPRO, a digital payments infrastructure provider.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

The Greater China fintech practice at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP acts for an enviable roster of clients, including fintech companies, private investment firms and public companies. The firm also houses sector experts in financial services and technology, while its representative experience covers strategic investments, fintech-related M&A, joint ventures, and securities offerings financings. In Hong Kong, transactions specialist Christopher Wong is China practice head; Ian Ho‘s recent clients include Alibaba, Ant Financial, Blackstone and Citigroup; Makiko Harunari heads the firm’s Asia banking and credit practice; and of counsel and former China practice head, Celia Lam, is a capital markets and M&A expert. In Beijing, Yang Wang is a key corporate partner.

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Wong; Ian Ho; Makiko Harunari; Celia Lam; Yang Wang

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood‘s ‘very innovative‘ Hong Kong-based practice is widely respected for its financial regulatory, fintech, licensing and compliance expertise. The team has extensive experience in advising financial institutions on the application of new technologies to finance, such as the digitalisation of money lending, P2P lending as well as the creation of financial technology ecosystems that combine payment, personal finance and remittance capabilities. Mark Reed specialises in general banking, finance, insolvency, employment and financial services regulatory compliance advice; and Katherine Liu is highly focused on the financial services sector. Further support is provided by Penelope Shen, who advises on the establishment and structuring of private investment funds, and international trade finance and commercial banking specialist Anna Kwong. At associate level, Teresa Tsoi, Conrad Lam, James Wong, Anthony Wong and Phoebe Cheng are all experienced team members.

Practice head(s):

Katherine Liu; Mark Reed

Other key lawyers:

Penelope Shen; Anna Kwong; Teresa Tsoi; Conrad Lam; James Wong; Anthony Wong; Phoebe Cheng

Testimonials

‘The team is very innovative and always delivers work of a high standard, even if it is something new to the market.’

‘Associate Anthony Wong is very attentive and knowledgeable in this area of practice.’

Key clients

Airstar Bank

Airwallex (Hong Kong)

Ant Group Co

China Construction Bank (Asia) Corporation

Futu Securities International (Hong Kong)

Futu Lending

PrimeCredit

WeLend

WeLab

ZA Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised Twopresents, a Hong Kong-incorporated online charitable fundraising not-for-profit platform, on whether it needs a financial regulatory licence for its charitable fundraising and money-processing activities.