Fintech: foreign firms in China

Baker McKenzie FenXun

Baker McKenzie FenXun's multidisciplinary Greater China fintech team stands out for its enviable global reach and strong connections with the regulatory authorities. The team advises the entire value chain of the fintech sector, including financial institutions, global digital leaders, technology incubators and start-ups; and it acts across a broad range of sub-sectors, including crowdfunding, e-payment platforms, cryptocurrencies, digital banking and peer-to-peer lending. In addition, the practice assists with issues relating to market entry, product innovation and licensing, and mitigating regulatory, IP and contractual risks. Focused on IT and major projects, M&A expert Howard Wu is chief representative of the Shanghai office. The Hong Kong team includes global financial services regulatory practice chair Karen Man, who advises on structuring service and business offerings in the fintech space; and Paolo Sbuttoni, who focuses on technology agreements and transactions, e-commerce, telecoms regulatory matters and data privacy.

Practice head(s):

Karen Man; Paolo Sbuttoni

Other key lawyers:

Grace Fung; Howard Wu

Testimonials

This is one of the leading law firms in APAC. It is very insightful and easy to understand.

Great expertise and client care.

Paolo Sbuttoni is very strong in his knowledge of technology and privacy. Apart from giving legal workshops to our start-ups, he is able to give very in-depth and up to date analysis of cybersecurity issues from the legal standpoint.

Key clients

Tencent Holdings

A.O.Smith China

METRO AG

Work highlights

  • Advised METRO, a retailer in China, on the establishment of a strategic partnership with Wumei Technology Group.
  • Advised Tencent on the establishment of a joint venture, Infinium, as well as the application for a virtual banking licence, which was approved by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

Hogan Lovells International LLP

Providing integrated international and domestic Chinese legal advice, Hogan Lovells International LLP has a substantial fintech client base that includes traditional financial institutions, robo-advisers and alternative lending companies, as well as clients involved in payments and money transfers, blockchains and AI. Representative work includes the delivery of goods and services through new and disruptive online and mobile technologies; and acting for social media players and businesses that leverage third-party social media to enhance their market presence. In Beijing, Lu Zhou has vast experience in advising clients in the TMT, life sciences, and education industries; and Sherry Gong advises multinationals on cross-border transactions, particularly in the education, TMT and life science industries. In Hong Kong, Mark Parsons' practice covers the full range of commercial and regulatory work; and Andrew McGinty has a reputation for regulatory issues, domestic joint ventures and telecoms licensing deals.

Practice head(s):

Mark Parsons; Andrew McGinty

Other key lawyers:

Lu Zhou; Sherry Gong

Testimonials

Hogan Lovells is our go-to firm for fintech advice. It provides high-quality advice and delivers it in a professional manner. The team is diligent, responsive and straight talking, and it understands the complex aspects of our business very well.

Andrew McGinty is responsive and attentive, and his advice is always practical, clear and client-focused. He understands our business and its commercial drivers, and he responds quickly to queries, identifies the risks and delivers practical solutions.

Key clients

HSBC (Life) International Limited

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited

Prudential Holdings Limited

The Hong Kong Association of Banks

Citibank

Bank of Nova Scotia

Work highlights

  • Advised HSBC (Life) International on a technology collaboration agreement with CXA Group for the development of an employee benefits marketplace platform for employees and future corporate customers.
  • Advised Prudential Holdings on its Asia Pacific region technology collaboration agreement with Indian-based global technology service provider, Tech Mahindra.
  • Advised the Hong Kong Association of Banks on preparing a common baseline for phase II of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s Open API Framework.

Linklaters

Working on first-of-their kind digital transformation projects in the region, Linklaters' multidisciplinary Greater China fintech practice brings together expertise across TMT, financial regulation, capital markets, banking and corporate law. Its scope of work covers issues that potentially emerge during the building of cutting-edge fintech platforms, including AI, blockchain, data sovereignty and integrity, cloud adoption and cybersecurity. The practice expanded its China capabilities in 2018 through its joint operation with Shanghai's Zhao Sheng Law Firm, which itself launched a Beijing office in 2019. In Shanghai, John Xu is a senior M&A practitioner who has tech-related experience; and counsel Alex Roberts' corporate practice includes data transfer and cybersecurity, particularly in relation to the PRC Cybersecurity Law. Elsewhere, Singapore-based Niranjan Arasaratnam is global co-head of TMT; and in Hong Kong, Alex Bidlake has specialist knowledge of the fintech, infrastructure and technology sectors, while Sumit Indwar is a financial regulations group partner.

Other key lawyers:

John Xu; Alex Roberts; Sumit Indwar

Testimonials

What makes Linklaters stands out is its ability to be practical without compromising the quality of its legal advice. Any law firm can point out the issues and problems, but Linklaters always comes up with solutions too.

The team is patient and meticulous, and always grasps the issues quickly.

They have a deep understanding of domestic and foreign transaction regulations, and they are willing to co-operate with our deadline requirements. They also actively pay attention to the ever-changing regulations and industry trends in emerging industries such as financial technology and TMT.

John Xu is an excellent partner whose dedication to client service is unrivalled. John has solid knowledge and is always able to offer solutions to clients.

Key clients

Uber

Privé Services Ltd

Jardine Technologies Holdings

Work highlights

  • Advised Uber Singapore Technology Pte on data protection policies, IP protection clauses, inventions and technology-related incentives.
  • Advised Privé Services, a start-up focused on developing end-to-end digital solutions for wealth management institutions, on the investment into it by Credit Suisse and Samsung.
  • Advised Jardine Strategic Holdings on the formation of a new virtual bank joint venture with BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) and JD Digits (formerly JD Finance).

Allen & Overy LLP

Advising large domestic and global fintech companies, Allen & Overy LLP's practice in China combines technology expertise with its financial regulatory specialism. The team regularly advises on cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, AI, big data analytics, initial coin offerings and blockchain matters. In 2020, the firm enhanced its legal services offering, through an approved joint operation with Lang Yue Law Firm in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. The fintech and technology sectors account for a large part of the practice of Victor Ho, who is managing partner of the Beijing and Shanghai offices. Also on the mainland, Benjamin Crawford regularly advises on TMT matters, while Hong Kong-based Charlotte Robins is a financial services and regulatory partner.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Robins; Victor Ho

Other key lawyers:

Benjamin Crawford; Andre Da Roza

Key clients

FIS Global

Starbucks

GoJek

Work highlights

  • Advised GOJEK, a large provider of mobile on-demand and payment facilities in Southeast Asia, on its high-value Series F fundraising, which was led by Google, JD.com and Tencent (among other investors).
  • Advising FIS Global, which provides financial technology services such as payment processing and outsourcing, on the potential sale of an enterprise payments business to Tech Mahindra.
  • Advising on the development of a pioneering blockchain-based, multi-jurisdictional commodity trade and finance platform, which is being launched by a consortium.

Ashurst

Ashurst's Asia-Pacific fintech practice advises across a wide spectrum of matters, including: M&A, joint ventures and IPOs in the fintech sector; projects involving payment services, virtual banking and cryptocurrencies; and emerging technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts and AI. Other areas of expertise include commercial agreements that involve sponsorship, procurement, and supply and distribution; data privacy, cybersecurity and other technology-related regulatory work, including big data sharing arrangements; and technology and content licensing, development and use. Beijing-based Patrick Phua leads the firm's finance practice in China; and in Hong Kong, Joshua Cole is the lead partner for the firm's Asia digital economy practice.

Practice head(s):

Joshua Cole

Key clients

Tencent

WeChat Pay

DBS

Fusion Bank

Gini

Figure Technologies

Payment Choice

OKEx

Finnovasia

IHS Markit

Klook

Work highlights

  • Advising on the expansion of WeChat, WeChat Pay and various Tencent games internationally, including various payments and e-commerce aspects.
  • Advises Chat Pay on its ongoing business operations.
  • Advised IHS Markit on the data privacy policies and practices of financial services solutions and data provider, Ipreo, which IHS Markit acquired in 2018.

Clifford Chance LLP

Drawing on the firm's cross-practice expertise in M&A, financial regulatory, antitrust, capital markets and dispute resolution, Clifford Chance LLP's multi-disciplinary fintech practice advises Chinese and international clients on all aspects of innovative and complex transactions. The practice has longstanding experience in working with financial services businesses on key areas, such as blockchain, smart contracts, digital assets, payments, AI, data, cyber and InsurTech. Clients also benefit from its particularly strong relationships with regulatory bodies. In Shanghai, Kelly Gregory's recent highlights include PE and VC investment transactions in the technology and fintech space in Europe and South East Asia; and Beijing's Hong Zhang advises on cross-border M&A and joint ventures in relation to the TMT, fintech, financial institutions and healthcare sectors. Working across the Beijing and  Shanghai offices, China co-managing partners Terence Foo and Tim Wang are also key contacts, while counsel Kimi Liu is a regulatory expert in Beijing.

Practice head(s):

Hong Zhang

Key clients

Tencent

EQT

Xiaomi Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised Tencent Cloud Europe BV on its participation as co-lead investor in a €104m fundraising for Qonto, a French neobank that specialises in online banking services for SMEs and freelancers.
  • Advised Vanguard on its groundbreaking joint venture with Ant Financial, to provide regulated retail investment advisory services in China.
  • Advised EQT Mid Market Asia III fund on its proposed 10% minority investment in VBill, by way of subscription of new shares.

Eversheds Sutherland

Eversheds Sutherland's Hong Kong-based practice focuses on strategic and bet-the-farm technology outsourcing and digital transformation projects, including high-profile transactions involving emerging technology and new fintech market entrants across Hong Kong and Asia. The practice advises financial services institutions on strategic technology and payments transactions, including infrastructure outsourcing (private and public cloud); open banking; core-banking and payments platforms; payment scheme arrangements; contact centre and telecoms services; enterprise software licensing; and data centre and application outsourcing arrangements. Joining in 2019 from PwC's associated Hong Kong legal, technology and digital practice (known as Tiang & Partners), Rhys McWhirter leads the TMT group in Hong Kong. Asia banking and finance head Michael Yau is also key to the practice.

Practice head(s):

Rhys McWhirter; Michael Yau

Key clients

BOCI

Cathay Pacific Airways

A leading regional airline in Asia

New World First Bus Services Limited

Citybus Limited

Fusion Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising an airline on the deployment of application programming interfaces for online travel agents and the licensing of a digital wallet application.
  • Advised on the procurement and deployment of a new electronic payment system and the procurement of related services for the settlement of transport transactions.
  • Advising BOCI on the development of a bespoke index and application programming interface licence agreement.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Acting at all stages of the fintech lifecycle, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP's dedicated Greater China cross-practice includes advice on financial services regulation, IT and outsourcing, M&A, data protection and privacy, cyber security, investments, insurance and dispute resolution. The practice advises a wide spectrum of fintech clients, including unicorns, Chinese financial institutions and global investment banks, startups, exchanges, and payment and technology services providers. Enjoying close working relationships with key regulators, William Hallatt leads the fintech team in Hong Kong, where Hannah Cassidy advises fintech clients and financial institutions on regulatory policy, operations and investigations, and Tommy Tong regularly advises on strategic matters in the fintech and TMT sectors.

Practice head(s):

William Hallatt

Testimonials

William Hallatt and his team were pivotal in helping us shape our entry into the Hong Kong marketplace. Their superior knowledge of the regulations and strong relationships with the regulators made for a much smoother journey into the jurisdiction. The depth and breadth of the team’s skillset is also worth highlighting.

William Hallatt is instrumental in providing pragmatic and commercial advice.

Key clients

Standard Chartered Bank

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Limited

Ant Financial

Alternative Investment Management Association

JD.Com

Grab

Work highlights

  • Advised JD.com, along with Singapore’s Provident Capital Partners (as joint lead investors, alongside Google, Tencent and Mitsubishi Corp) on an investment funding round in Indonesia’s Gojek, which specialises in ride-hailing services, logistics and digital payments.
  • Advised AIMA on the Securities and Futures Commission’s new circular, in relation to the use of electronic data storage providers by licensed corporations.
  • Advised Ant Financial on its strategic investment in a Southeast Asian smart retail and e-payment platform, and its subscription of preferred shares, with GGV Capital, in Blue Mobile Capital.

Morrison & Foerster LLP

A go-to firm for technology investors and start-ups, Morrison & Foerster LLP's dedicated fintech team in Greater China regularly works alongside the firm's robust venture capital and private equity fund practices. It is particularly experienced in cybersecurity and data privacy matters, while its regulatory expertise covers the requirements under the payments, internet, and telecoms and cloud regulatory regimes. Managing partner of the Beijing and Shanghai offices, Paul McKenzie, consistently advises IT and other tech sector clients; and working across the Shanghai and Hong Kong offices, Chuan Sun focuses on fintech, cross-border M&A transactions and complex TMT transactions. Gordon Milner heads the China fintech practice from the Hong Kong office, where Thomas Chou, who co-heads the firm's Asia private equity and venture capital group, is also a key partner.

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Wang; Gigi Yuen; Tyler Xiu

Testimonials

A high degree of co-ordination among its various practitioners.

High levels of availability and responsiveness.

Key clients

Alibaba Group

Softbank Vision Fund

Roblox

Work highlights

  • Advised Alibaba Group Holding on Alibaba’s acquisition of a 33% equity interest in Ant Financial, China’s leading financial services company.
  • Advised Roblox on its joint venture with Tencent to publish and operate the Roblox platform in China.
  • Advised SoftBank Vision Fund on an investment in Chehaoduo, a Chinese customer-to-customer auto retail services company that operates Guazi (an e-commerce platform focusing on second-hand cars) and Maodou (an e-commerce platform focusing on new cars).

Norton Rose Fulbright

Advising financial institutions, investors, start-ups and regulators Norton Rose Fulbright's practice covers regulatory requirements, payment services, technology projects and fintech-related investments. In Shanghai, Lynn Yang is an InsurTech specialist, and Chinese regulations expert Sun Hong has over 20 years' experience in China-related corporate and regulatory matters. Over in Hong Kong, Anna Gamvros heads the firm's cyber risk practice for Asia Pacific; her practice focuses primarily on privacy, technology and communications-related issues. Former Beijing-based group leader and corporate partner, Barbara Li, left the firm for Rui Bai Law Firm.

Other key lawyers:

Lynn Yang; Sun Hong; Anna Gamvros

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP's multidisciplinary fintech team fields financial services and technology specialists, who advise on high-profile transactions, litigation and investigations. The practice also advises companies on best practices and compliance, financial regulations, IP, privacy, personal data and cybersecurity. Beijing office head Yang Wang consistently acts for private equity funds and corporate clients; Ian Ho is Asia M&A head; and Chris Lin and recently promoted partner Yi Gao are experienced capital markets partners. Also key to the group are China practice head Celia Lam, Daniel Fertig, who focuses on equity and debt securities offerings, as well as M&A transactions, and Asian banking and credit head Makiko Harunari. All advisers mentioned are in Hong Kong unless otherwise stated.

Key clients

Ant Financial Services Group

Cango Inc.

Qudian Inc.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Citigroup Global Markets Inc.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.

Goldman Sachs (Asia) L.L.C.

Morgan Stanley

Work highlights

  • Advised Ant Financial on its strategic investment in Asiaray Media Group.
  • Advised Qudian on its offering of $345m convertible senior notes.
  • Advised the underwriters on the New York Stock Exchange IPO of OneConnect Financial Technology Co.

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood has extensive experience in advising fintech sector clients on the application of new technologies to finance, such as the digitalisation of money lending, P2P lending, banking, investment and payment services, as well as the creation of financial technology ecosystems that combine payment, personal finance and remittance functions. Its experience also extends to advising sponsors on their collaboration with start-up companies. With over three decades of experience, Hong Kong-based finance practice head Mark Reed specialises in advising fintech companies on general banking, finance, insolvency, employment, and financial services regulatory compliance advice; and regulatory team partner Katherine Liu's practice recently involved assisting fintech startups and established financial institutions with establishing their online businesses. In 2020, the firm closed its Beijing office.

Practice head(s):

Mark Reed; Katherine Liu

Key clients

PrimeCredit Limited

Airstar Bank Limited

HKT Flexi Limited

Convoy Global Holdings Limited

Futu Securities International (Hong Kong) Limited

Futu Lending Limited

HEX Technologies Limited

Xero Limited

FundPark Limited

Work highlights

  • Advises PrimeCredit, one of the largest licensed money lenders in Hong Kong, on a wide spectrum of regulatory and compliance issues, including data privacy matters.
  • Assisted FundPark, an emerging online trade financing platform in Asia, on developing its suite of standard factoring documents and security documents.
  • Acted for Airstar Bank, one of the first entities to secure a virtual banking licence from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, on preparing the client documentation for its virtual banking and lending services.