Fintech: foreign firms in China
Baker McKenzie FenXun's Hong Kong office is known for advising financial institutions, global digital leaders, technology incubators and startups across a broad range of sub-sectors, including crowdfunding, e-payment platforms, cryptocurrencies and peer-to-peer lending. Led from Shanghai by Howard Wu, the Hong Kong team includes Paolo Sbuttoni, who has substantial experience in data privacy and e-commerce matters, and global financial regulations practice head Karen Man.
AEON Credit Service (Asia) Co., Ltd
- Advised Tencent on the establishment of the joint venture, Infinium, and also the application for a virtual banking license, which was approved by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
Mark Parsons and Andrew McGinty jointly lead Hogan Lovells' practice from Hong Kong. The group regularly acts for traditional financial institutions, alternative lending companies, and clients in the areas of payments and money transfer, blockchain and artificial intelligence. In Beijing, Lu Zhou advises private equity fund clients and financial institutions on the structuring of investment deals, as well as portfolio companies of fund clients in a variety of transactions. Also notable in Beijing is Sherry Gong who was recently promoted to the partnership.
Mark Parsons; Andrew McGinty
‘This team has profound knowledge and expertise in the fintech sector. Its members are very responsive and capable of providing tailored advice in accordance with the client’s situation.’
‘Lu Zhou is one of the best corporate lawyers in China. She knows the fintech industry very well and is able to provide sound and practical advice especially in the event where the laws or regulations of a certain field are obscure or unknown.’
- Acted as outside legal advisor to Airbnb for various payment system-related issues for its operations in China.
Linklaters approaches the fintech space from a multidisciplinary and region-wide perspective, tying together its expertise in TMT, financial regulations, capital markets, banking and corporate to provide a full service experience to its diverse client roster. Working closely with its colleagues in Singapore, the China-based team has recently handled digital transformation projects in the region, ranging from the establishment of a standalone digital business unit for a multinational financial institution, to a unicorn ICO. Niranjan Arasaratnam spearheads the group from the Singapore office with the support of Hong Kong-based Alex Bidlake and regulatory expert Sumit Indwar. Also notable is financial regulations partner Annabella Fu van Bijnen who also sits in Hong Kong.
Jardine Strategic Holdings Limited
Och-Ziff Capital Management Hong Kong Limited
- Advised Jardines on the formation of a new virtual bank joint venture with BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) and JD Digits (formerly JD Finance).
- Advised Och-Ziff on its $300m cornerstone investment in the China Tower IPO.
- Acting for Kenetic Capital, a cryptocurrency asset manager, in relation to its seed and A round fundraising.
Norton Rose Fulbright acts for a broad range of clients including financial institutions, investors, start-ups and regulators in issues pertaining to regulatory obligations, payments services, technology projects and investment transactions. Corporate partner Barbara Li leads the group from Beijing while insurtech expert Lynn Yang and Chinese regulations specialist Sun Hong sit in the Shanghai office. In Hong Kong, Anna Gamvros focuses on privacy and data protection, cybersecurity and breach response, telecommunications and Internet regulatory issues, technology agreements and outsourcing transactions.
Web 3.0 Technologies Foundation
- Advising the Web 3.0 Technologies Foundation on the launch of a cutting edge inter-operability protocol project. This includes its ICO in a range of fiat and cryptocurrencies, as well as the ensuing private sales of DOTs (the native digital token of the Polkadot network), software development and DOT incentive structures.
Allen & Overy LLP
The fintech team at Allen & Overy LLP advises clients on both regulatory and transactional matters, and counts some of the largest domestic and global fintech companies among its clients. Beijing-based Victor Ho is highly experienced in fintech work, as well as being the managing partner of the firm's mainland China offices. Other key names to note include the Hong Kong-based Will McAuliffe, and Shanghai-based Wayne Lee.
Ashurst provides a wide range of advice to clients in the fintech space, encompassing financial regulation, commercial agreements, data and privacy, outsourcing, as well as financing and transactions. The firm is also strong in the crypto sector, advising clients on ICOs and securities regulation. While the team is led from Hong Kong by Joshua Cole, key individuals on the ground in mainland China include Beijing-based Patrick Phua, who is recommended for established financial clients. Also of note is the Hong Kong-based counsel Hoi Tak Leung, who is the firm's key individual for china-focused blockchain and cryptocurrency matters.
- Advising WeChat Pay on its continued expansion in Hong Kong and beyond.
- Advising Tencent on the WeChat Mini Program platform, including regulatory advice and due diligence and vetting of merchants.
- Advising Tencent’s PUBG gaming subsidiary on its payment services agreement with Amazon Pay.
- Providing ongoing advice in relation to the Metabase Networks initial coin offering.
- Advising on various aspects of Waykichain’s initial coin offering.
With a strong practice in both regulatory and transactional work, the fintech team of Clifford Chance LLP is well-placed to advise established financial clients, investors into the sector, or more niche fintech companies such as those working with blockchain and crypto. The firms regulatory practice is adept at both inbound and outbound work, covering both financial services regulation, as well as the impacts of other technological regulations such as data law on financial services providers. The team is led from Beijing by Hong Zhang, who specialises in transactional work, while a key figure in the firm's regulatory team is the Hong Kong-based Terry Yang.
Other key lawyers:
Huifu Payment Limited
- Advising one of the leading PRC electronic payment systems / e-wallet service providers on payment system related regulatory implications including banking, money remittance, money changing, stored value facility, promotional activities and other regulatory licensing issues.
- Advised a global blockchain software provider on its initiatives in respect of launching a global business network based on blockchain technology from a PRC law perspective.
- Advised a client on the regulatory issues connected to its crypoto derivatives trading platform, and the possibility of expanding such a platform to China.
- Acted forThe Carlyle Group on its equity investment into the financial services group of Baidu in connection with its spin-off from Baidu as part of Baidu FSG’s equity financing totalling $1.9bn.
Herbert Smith Freehills
The Hong Kong-based team of Herbert Smith Freehills undertakes a wide range of work in the fintech space, including transactions for large Chinese and multinational corporates looking to expand their fintech offerings, regulatory advice, disputes involving fintech companies, along with blockchain and cryptocurrency specific work. Practice head William Hallatt is highly experienced in financial services regulation, with a client base consisting of both fintech startups and large-scale financial institutions, while Tommy Tong focuses on corporate and strategic advisory work.
Other key lawyers:
- Advised Grab on its joint venture with ZhongAn to offer insurance products via Grab’s app in Southeast Asia.
- Advised Ant Financial on its Series D preferred share investment in Blue Mobile Capital, a company engaging in e-payment businesses in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam under the trade name “BluePay”.
- Advised JD.Com, along with Singapore’s Provident Capital Partners, as lead investors in the $2bn Series F investment funding round in Go-Jek, Indonesia’s first unicorn company that specialises in ride-hailing and logistics.
Morrison & Foerster LLP's fintech group is led from the Hong Kong office by Gordon Milner and combines the firm's venture capital and private equity expertise to assist technology start-ups with commercial issues, cybersecurity matters and their regulatory obligations. Other key names include Chuan Sun, Thomas Chou who co-head the firm's Asia private equity and venture capital practice and Paul McKenzie who acts as managing partner of the Beijing and Shanghai offices.
‘Morrison & Foerster has very impressive experience in the venture capital space‘.
Softbank Vision Fund
Global Commerce Technologies Pte. Ltd (aka Coins.ph)
- Advised Alibaba Group Holding Limited in Alibaba’s acquisition of a 33% equity interest in Ant Financial, China’s leading financial services company.
- Assisted Alibaba Group with Ant Financial’s most recent $14bn Series C fundraising, valuing Ant Financial at approximately $150bn.
- Advised Softbank Vision Fund in connection with an investment as part of a $3bn investment by Softbank and the SoftBank Vision Fund into Local Services Holding Company.
- Advised Hong Kong-based financial services and technology company Oriente on its $105m initial funding round.
- The group acted on the buy-out of Philippines FinTech platform Coins.ph by a subsidiary of Indonesian ride hailing company Go-Jek.
At Simmons & Simmons, the fintech team is instructed on a wide range of matters including blockchain issues, and regulatory advice for both the financial and technological aspects of clients' businesses, as well as handling corporate and commercial work. Hong Kong-based Jingyuan Shi is a key contact for fintech clients, alongside Jolyon Ellwood-Russell. Recent clients have included leading fintech companies, both domestic and international.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has significant expertise in financial services and technology. The team advises its diverse client roster on high-profile transactions and high-stakes disputes in the fintech space by combining its financial regulations, intellectual property, privacy, personal data and cybersecurity capabilities. Celia Lam heads the firm's China practice from Hong Kong where Makiko Harunari leads the Asian banking and credit practice. In Beijing, office managing partner Yang Wang spearheads the firm's PRC M&A group and acts for private equity funds and corporates in various transactions.
Celia Lam; Yang Wang; Makiko Harunari
Ant Financial Services Group
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Citigroup Global Markets Inc.
Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.
Goldman Sachs (Asia) L.L.C.
- Advised Ant Financial in its Series C equity financing totaling approximately $14bn.
- Acted for Ant Financial in its $100m investment in StoneCo, a leading provider of financial technology solutions in Brazil.
- Advised Ant Financial in its strategic partnership with bKash, a leading mobile financial services provider in Bangladesh.
- Acted for Ant Financial in its joint venture with CK Hutchison in Hong Kong.
- Acted for Cango in its $40.9m IPO and NYSE listing.
The multi-disciplinary offering at Stephenson Harwood is best known for its work on fintech regulations, corporate transactions, ICOs and blockchain issues. In Hong Kong, Mark Reed focuses on the financial sector where he advises on financing transactions, regulatory, commercial, insolvency and employment issues. Also notable are newly promoted partner Katherine Liu, who sits in the regulatory compliance team, and Jane Ng, a corporate partner who also services the firm's fintech clients; both are based in Hong Kong.
Mark Reed; Jonathan Chu; Jane Ng
Other key lawyers:
‘The breadth of strength across industry sectors and the combination of standalone attention and specific expertise are what makes this firm a real standout.’
‘Katherine Liu maintains a great balance between legal advice and commercial realities. Conrad Lam has outstanding knowledgeable and independent proactivity to directly engage the relevant partners for complicated matters.’
TNG (Asia) Limited
IQ Options Limited
HEX Technologies Limited
- Stephenson Harwood regularly advises PrimeCredit on a wide spectrum of regulatory and compliance issues arising from its business operations, such as those concerning data privacy, anti-money laundering, the Money Lenders Ordinance and customer bankruptcy matters.
- The firm has a retainer arrangement with TNG, a fast growing e-wallet and remittance service provider in Hong Kong, to advise on a variety of compliance issues.
- Advised IQ Option, which provides online trading services in respect of digital options, securities and cryptocurrencies, on various regulatory issues.
- Stephenson Harwood advised Saito Blockchain on the strategy and assisted with the coordination of the prosecution of its international patent applications for its blockchain technology.
- The group advised HEX on various aspects, such as the nature of the cryptocurrencies under HK law, whether the provision of the relevant services in Hong Kong, such as acting as a custodian in respect of cryptocurrencies, would trigger regulatory licensing and authorisation requirements.