Fintech: foreign firms in China

Baker McKenzie FenXun

Baker McKenzie FenXun‘s multidisciplinary China fintech team fields experts who handle all aspects of the fintech and wider tech issues that affect the financial services industry. The practice stands out for its global reach, solid connections with regulatory authorities, and track record with emerging companies and financial institutions. The Hong Kong-based group advises across the entirety of the financial technology industry, including global digital leaders, technology incubators and startups, in relation to crowdfunding, e-payment platforms, cryptocurrencies, digital banking and peer-to-peer lending. It regularly advises on market entry, product innovation and licensing and IP.  The key figures are global financial services regulatory practice chair Karen Man; Paolo Sbuttoni, whose recent experience includes advising companies on establishing data governance frameworks across the region; and recently promoted financial services regulatory partner Grace Fung.

Practice head(s):

Karen ManPaolo Sbuttoni

Other key lawyers:

Grace Fung; Dominic Edmondson

Key clients

A O Smith China

BC Technology Group

Charles Schwab

Fusion Bank

METRO AG

StashAway Hong Kong

Tencent Holdings

Work highlights

  • Provided Hong Kong regulatory advice to Charles Schwab on its acquisition of TD Ameritrade.
  • Advised StashAway, a robo-advisor and digital wealth management start-up based in Singapore, on obtaining Securities and Futures Commission licenses.
  • Advised BC Technology Group (public fintech and digital asset company) on its HKD697m top-up share placement.

Hogan Lovells International LLP

Hogan Lovells International LLP is widely praised for its assistance to traditional financial institutions, robo-advisers and alternative lending companies, as well as clients in the areas of payments and money transfer, blockchain and artificial intelligence. Through the firm’s association with the PRC’s Fujian Fidelity Law Firm, it is able to offer integrated international and domestic advice to clients operating in China. The Hong Kong-based practice is co-led by Mark Parsons, who also heads the firm’s Asia-Pacific regulatory practice, and advises on the full range of commercial and regulatory work in technology and telecoms. Andrew McGinty, whose practice covers foreign direct investment, M&A, joint ventures and strategic alliances, as well as regulatory advice is also a key partner. In Beijing, Lu Zhou is a TMT, life sciences and education sector specialist.

Practice head(s):

Mark Parsons; Andrew McGinty

Other key lawyers:

Lu Zhou; Tommy Liu

Testimonials

Hogan Lovells is a market leader in financial technology.’

Mark Parson and Tommy Liu have a cutting-edge understanding of the development of financial technology in Hong Kong, and are able to provide legal advice to clients with great efficiency.’

Key clients

HSBC (Life) International Limited No

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing

Prudential Holdings

The Hong Kong Association of Banks

Citibank

Enlight Growth Partners

Bank of Nova Scotia

Work highlights

  • Advised the Hong Kong Association of Banks, a trade association representing Hong Kong banks, on preparing a Common Baseline for Phase II of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s Open API Framework.
  • Assisted Enlight Growth Partners, as the lead investor in the $24m series A financing of Parkside Securities, a global stock trading and clearing platform for brokerages and digital banks.

Linklaters

Fielding a cross-practice, cross-jurisdictional team, Linklaters‘ Greater China fintech group is sought out by financial institutions, challenger banks, infrastructure providers and technology companies for their most innovative fintech projects, which frequently involve both transactional and regulatory advice. In addition to ‘extremely deep subject matter expertise‘, clients additionally benefit from the firm’s extensive PRC law capabilities, facilitated through its joint operation with Zhao Sheng Law Firm. In Hong Kong, Alex Bidlake advises technology companies, financial sponsors and financial institutions on M&A transactions, early stage investments, joint ventures, and primary and secondary equity issues, as well as general corporate and regulatory issues; Sumit Indwar heads the firm’s financial regulation practice in Asia; and Albert Yuen joined as counsel and TMT head in July 2020 from Osborne Clarke. In Shanghai, counsel Alex Roberts advises on cross-border investments into (and the establishment of) online platforms, IP protection, data management and cybersecurity.

Other key lawyers:

Alex Roberts

Testimonials

Extremely deep subject matter expertise.

Great for problem solving and commercially reasonable, with flexible billing.

Second to none for professionalism and professional knowledge.

Alex Bidlake and counsel Alex Roberts are both exceptional in their approach to legal issues. They are problem solvers and add tremendous value to all matters.

Key clients

Trumid Holdings

Xero

Fidelity Management & Research Company

Work highlights

  • Advised Trumid Holdings, a financial technology company, on its joint venture with the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and Hillhouse.
  • Acted for Two Sigma on its minority investment into Hong Kong’s first virtual licensed general insurance company, Avo Insurance.
  • Advised Xero, a New Zealand-domiciled Australian Securities Exchange-listed cloud accounting software provider, on financial services regulatory, technology and commercial matters.

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 services, 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.

Work highlights

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Ashurst

Consistently advising significant technology platforms, Ashurst‘s multi-disciplinary Asia-Pacific practice advises across a wide spectrum of work in the fintech sector, across multiple jurisdictions, providing banking, technology, corporate, financial regulatory and competition law expertise. The Hong Kong-based practice is led by Joshua Cole, who has a long track record in advising on large and significant fintech and TMT matters in Asia, including cross-border M&A and joint ventures. Cole is additionally experienced in advising on outsourcings and regulatory compliance across the Asia-Pacific. Further support is provided by Ben Hammond, who leads the non-contentious financial services regulatory practice in Hong Kong; and Beijing-based China finance practice head Patrick Phua.

Practice head(s):

Joshua Cole

Testimonials

‘Very familiar with regulatory framework in Hong Kong, deep knowledge of payments and remittance regulatory environment. Customer oriented, very responsive and excellent at meeting budgets and timelines.’

‘Ben Hammond – expert in Fintech and solid partner to our business. Excellent prioritisation and overall excellent understanding of our needs as a customer.’

 

Key clients

Tyme Group

Tencent

WeChat Pay

Divit

DBS

BNP Paribas

OKEx

Finnovasia

Airstar Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised Tyme Group, a global digital banking group, on establishing a joint venture with JG Group (one of the largest conglomerates in the Philippines) to create a digital bank.
  • Assisting Tencent with the international expansion of WeChat and WeChat Pay across Asia and internationally.
  • Assisted Divit, a start-up buy-now-pay-later provider, with its entry on the Hong Kong market.

Clifford Chance LLP

With enviable global reach, Clifford Chance LLP‘s multi-disciplinary fintech practice includes Chinese-speaking lawyers, who advise Chinese and international clients on all aspects of innovative and complex transactions in the fintech sector. The team is able to leverage expertise in M&A, financial regulatory, antitrust, capital markets and dispute resolution. On the mainland, co-managing partner Terence Foo is a transactions expert; Tim Wang is a cross-border M&A and capital markets specialist; Kelly Gregory‘s recent experience includes advising Tencent on a number of PE and VC investment transactions in the technology and fintech space in Europe and North America. Counsel Kimi Liu is highly experienced in data and technology regulation and financial regulatory matters. Former M&A partner Hong Zhang left the firm for JunHe LLP in January 2021.

Practice head(s):

Kelly Gregory

Other key lawyers:

Terence Foo; Tim WangKimi Liu

Testimonials

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Key clients

Tencent

Xiaomi Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised Tencent on European online-trading group BUX’s €67m funding round (led by Prosus Ventures and Tencent).
  • Advised Tencent on its financing (together with other investors) of Viva Wallet, a pan-European neobank providing localised payment and credit services to businesses across 23 European countries.
  • Advising a large US bank on the implementation of a cybersecurity grading system and identification rules for critical information infrastructure operators in the PRC.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper acts for a broad range of clients, ranging from start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises to traditional players in the technology and financial services sectors. The Hong Kong-based fintech team brings together expertise from its finance and IP and technology teams, in addition to members from corporate and real estate groups. It advises on electronic finance products and peer-to-peer platforms; assisting with the implementation of data centres and their potential financing in addition to asset tokenisation projects. Asia head of the firm’s global technology and fintech sector initiative, Scott Thiel, is experienced in the regulatory issues associated with payments clearing, e-commerce settlements and cross-border payment services; Matthias Schemuth provides further partner-level support; and senior associate Lauren Hurcombe focuses on complex technology and commercial arrangements.

Practice head(s):

Scott ThielMatthias Schemuth

Eversheds Sutherland

Eversheds Sutherland‘s Hong Kong-based Asia technology group acts for large institutional clients and start-up unicorns on a broad spectrum of technology matters. With established experience in technology, commercial and financial regulatory matters, the team has a particular focus on critical technology outsourcing transactions and digital transformation projects, including in the aviation sector. Representative work for the group ranges from infrastructure outsourcing (private and public cloud), core banking and payments platforms to software licensing and data centres.  Heading the firm’s technology practice group across Asia, Rhys McWhirter‘s recent experience includes leading (on behalf of global financial services institutions) the negotiation of several high-profile and novel emerging technology transactions, which involved blockchain and AI; and banking and finance leader Michael Yau handles fintech work.

Practice head(s):

Rhys McWhirterMichael Yau

Other key lawyers:

Frankie Tam; Philip Chow

Testimonials

Rhys McWhirter managers the ES Asia TMT practice – and is an excellent contact. We work with Rhys on tech contracts throughout Asia and recommend his knowledge and expertise very highly.

Rhys McWhiter is a great contact for all TMT matters in China and Asia.

Rhys McWhiter is proactive and focused on achieving good commercial outcomes for his clients.

Key clients

Thought Machine Group

Ping Pong Global Payments

Sunrate Global Payments

VBill Payment

China Merchants Bank

Blackhawk Network

Blue Insurance

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.
  • Assisted China Merchants Bank with an innovative offering to its securities clients.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Operating at the intersection between financial services and technology, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP‘s Hong Kong-based practice advises a wide spectrum of fintech clients in the region, including Chinese financial institutions, global investment banks, fintech start-ups, robo-advisors and investors. Supporting clients at all stages of the fintech lifecycle, the team’s advice frequently includes investment, tax and dispute resolution matters. Promoted to Asia financial services regulatory head in March 2021, Hannah Cassidy provides regulatory advice on cryptocurrency exchanges, financial services licensing, and payments and remittance systems; Tommy Tong assists high-profile clients with strategic matters in the fintech sector; and Beijing-based of counsel James Gong focuses on fintech and TMT-related inbound and outbound investments. Former fintech practice head William Hallat joined Gibson Dunn in May 2021.

Practice head(s):

Hannah Cassidy

Other key lawyers:

Tommy Tong; James Gong

Testimonials

The HSF Team across Asia has been a great support during various large transactions over the last 18 months; and they have developed a very detailed understanding of our firm’s process/contracting standards and key stakeholders.

They go above and beyond, working antisocial hours to ensure that they deliver the best quality of service.

They are technically excellent and very personable. Our business stakeholders have specifically requested certain HSF lawyers to work on their matters on a repeat basis.

The HSF Team works hard to understand our firm and ensures that everything they do is tailored to us – this is so much rarer than it should be. They come to us with proposed solutions and are a genuine pleasure to work with.

HSF has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in Asia TMT.

Key clients

Standard Chartered Bank

The Technology Crossover Fund

Ant Financial

Alibaba

First Eastern Group

Morrison Foerster

Leading financial services and technology firm Morrison & Foerster LLP showcases an experienced fintech team in China that combines substantial venture capital and private equity fund practices and is sought out by major technology investors and start-ups in addition to a number of tech giants. The practice advises on the regulatory requirements relating to e-commerce, and cloud issues in addition to advising on data and cyber security. In Hong Kong, practice head Gordon Milner has particular expertise in cross-border technology projects and Thomas Chou, who co-heads the firm’s Asia private equity group, works closely with emerging growth companies, as well as traditional and non-traditional investors. On the mainland, Shanghai-based Chuan Sun‘s clients range from multinational corporations and large state-owned enterprises to start-ups in the fintech/technology area; and managing partner of the Beijing and Shanghai offices, Paul McKenzie, regularly acts for companies in the IT/technology sectors.

Other key lawyers:

Zooey Chen; Gigi Yuan; Sarah Wang

Key clients

Alibaba Group

Softbank Vision Fund

Roblox

Dairy Farn

Unity

Work highlights

  • Advised Roblox on its joint venture with Tencent (Luobu) and the establishment and launch of the Roblox platform in China, the first foreign online game platform with user-generated games and revenue-sharing to obtain a government licence in China.
  • Advised a leading institutional investor in Grab Holdings, in connection with Grab’s proposed merger with special purpose acquisition company, Altimeter Growth Corp.
  • Advised Alibaba Group Holding on Ant Group’s proposed IPO.

Norton Rose Fulbright

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. 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.

Practice head(s):

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Other key lawyers:

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Testimonials

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Key clients

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Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP‘s Hong-Kong based fintech practice stands out for the breadth of its client base (fintech companies, private investment firms and public companies) and industry knowledge in financial services and technology. Typical work encompasses fintech-related M&A, securities offerings, financings, strategic investments, and joint ventures.The principal figures are China practice head Celia Lam; Asia M&A head Ian Ho, whose practice includes fintech transactions; capital markets specialists Yi Gao and Daniel Fertig; Asia banking and credit practice head Makiko Harunari; and transactions expert Christopher Wong. In Beijing, office head Yang Wang recently advised Qudian, a technology platform, on its investment in Secoo Holding.

Other key lawyers:

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Testimonials

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Key clients

Ant Group

Cango

Qudian

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Citigroup Global Markets

Deutsche Bank Securities

Goldman Sachs (Asia)

Morgan Stanley

Work highlights

  • Advised the underwriters (CLSA, Nomura and ABC International) on the $1.64bn Hong Kong IPO and Rule 144A and Regulation S offering by Yeahka.
  • Advised the underwriters (Goldman Sachs (Asia), Morgan Stanley & Co and China PA Securities (Hong Kong) Company) on the $324m follow-on offering by OneConnect Financial Technology Co.
  • Advised Qudian on its $100m investment in Secoo Holding.

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood‘s enviable client base includes banks, virtual banks, e-commerce platform operators,  and insurance companies. The Hong Kong-based practice regularly advises clients on the application of new technologies to existing face-to-face businesses models, including P2P lending, and other payment systems.  With over four decades of experience, fintech department head Mark Reed specialises in providing fintech companies with banking, finance, insolvency, employment and financial services regulatory advice; and the recent experience of fintech partner Katherine Liu includes working with fintech unicorns and multinational financial institutions on establishing and developing their online businesses. In 2020, the firm closed its Beijing office.

Practice head(s):

Mark ReedKatherine Liu

Testimonials

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Key clients

Airstar Bank

Futu Securities International (Hong Kong)

Futu Lending

Twopresents

Airwallex (Hong Kong)

HKT Flexi

PrimeCredit

Work highlights

  • Acted for Airstar Bank, a joint venture between the AMTD Group and Xiaomi Corporation and one of the first entities to secure a virtual banking licence from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
  • Advised Twopresents, a Hong Kong-incorporated online charitable fund-raising not-for-profit platform, on whether it needed a financial regulatory licence for its charitable fund-raising and money-processing activities (among others).