The ‘highly experienced, knowledgeable and responsive‘ team at Clifford Chance offers ‘commercially sensible solutions‘ in the full array of regulatory issues affecting the financial sector. Practitioners marry expertise in financial regulations, technology and dispute resolution, making the firm a go-to destination for financial institutions throughout the entirety of their life cycle. The broad service offering covers transactional matters, high-profile cross-border regulatory investigations, and fintech and payment services-related mandates involving data privacy issues, transactions and nascent regulations. Combining a strong regional offering with wide-ranging global coverage, the practice is also noted for its engagement with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and regulators throughout APAC concerning new developments in the financial markets. Lena Ng ‘has deep industry knowledge‘, and a wealth of experience in licensing, exemptions, conduct of business, and other regulatory issues. She oversees the practice with fintech specialist Paul Landless, and dispute resolution partners Kabir Singh, Nish Shetty and Janice Goh, all of whom are recommended for regulatory investigations. Newly appointed counsel Mae Yen Teoh, who is qualified in both England and Wales and Singapore, is another key contact, with in-depth knowledge of licensing and regulatory matters affecting financial institutions and fintech companies.
Fintech and financial services regulatory: foreign firms in Singapore
Lena Ng; Paul Landless; Kabir Singh; Nish Shetty; Janice Goh
Other key lawyers:
Mae Yen Teoh; Luke Chen; Yaru Chia; Allison Tan
‘Their global knowledge and network is a huge advantage. Lena Ng has almost single-handedly created an industry position for Clifford Chance in the local regulatory space. She is very receptive, responsive and truly understands the client’s needs. She has deep industry knowledge and networks. She has greatly helped our organisation.’
‘The regulatory team is well staffed. Lena Ng and her team are dependable and my go-to for issues.’
‘Clifford Chance is always accessible to clients and able to offer commercially sensible solutions.’
‘Luke Chen is a senior associate who functions at the level of a junior partner. He is always accessible, technically competent and able to offer a commercially sensible solution for clients. Lena Ng has deep experience in the financial regulatory space and heads up a great team at Clifford Chance that provides an excellent standard of service.’
‘The team is highly experienced, knowledgeable and responsive to our needs throughout the process of advising us in the contract negotiation process.’
‘Lena Ng is proactive, decisive, analytical and clear in advice.’
‘Quick and practical advice. Lena Ng goes above and beyond in her support. Commercial and to the point.’
- Advised the consortium establishing the Partior platform on the corporate establishment, joint venture arrangements, regulatory aspects (including engagement with MAS), technology licensing, compliance and antitrust aspects.
- Advising high-profile start-up Contour on its blockchain-based messaging platform for letters of credit and other trade finance instruments, and also on its Series A+ preferred financing in which the Series A+ investors consist of a new investor and certain existing shareholders.
- Advised a global private banking group on a cyber breach resulting in their client data being compromised
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
The specialist financial services regulatory team at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP ‘is able to provide regulatory advice across Asia‘. Covering contentious and non-contentious matters, the practice is singled out for its experience in high-stakes regulatory investigations, compliance, licensing and governance issues. The firm’s dedicated fintech group brings together expertise in financial services regulations, technology, data and digital law to advise clients in relation to compliance and licensing mandates that arise in the context of digital banking, digital asset trading platforms and exchanges, payment services, blockchain and innovative tech. Department head Natalie Curtis ‘demonstrates a depth of knowledge of both the regulatory framework and the industry context‘. She is regularly sought by corporate clients, industry bodies and financial industry regulators in relation to regulatory reforms and cross-border issues involving the APAC region.
‘Natalie Curtis has been an outstanding partner, providing key insights and advice and with a feeling of prioritising our work.’
‘HSF is able to provide regulatory advice across Asia. Very helpful for cross-border deals. The advice is solid.’
‘The HSF team is technically strong and commercial-minded at the same time.’
‘Very close engagement with and knowledge of the regulators, industry issues and regulations.’
‘Natalie Curtis is very approachable, communicates very clearly and demonstrates a depth of knowledge of both the regulatory framework and the industry context.’
Linklaters fields a cross-practice team - with expertise across fintech, financial regulations, corporate law, capital markets and TMT - that is adept at handling the entire spectrum of contentious and non-contentious matters on behalf of financial institutions. The firm, which possesses deep relationships with Singapore regulators and industry bodies, is skilled at advising on cutting-edge and first-of-their-kind projects in the fintech space, and has notable strength in establishing global payments systems. The team is increasingly retained by digital wallets, electronic money institutions, cryptocurrency firms and other innovative businesses in relation to licensing, regulatory and compliance matters. Other areas of particular expertise include novel financial products, digital assets, and transactions (from capital raisings to financing and M&A) in the fintech segment. Co-head Peiying Chua, who is widely recommended by clients, is the main point of contact for banks, investment managers, broker-dealers, and intermediaries on licensing, regulatory compliance and M&A in the financial services sector. She receives key support from Niranjan Arasaratnam, who heads up the tech group, TMT practice leader Adrian Fisher and capital markets expert Jonathan Horan.
Peiying Chua; Niranjan Arasaratnam; Adrian Fisher; Jonathan Horan
‘Linklaters’ practice in this space is very focused on delivering a good client service experience and consistently provides quality, timely, and easy-to-digest advice.’
‘Peiying Chua makes clients feel very safe with their legal issues. She understands various perspectives from which the advice is being requested, and ensures that these perspectives are considered when delivering her advice.’
Standard Chartered Bank
- Advised SCB on its joint venture with NTUC Enterprise, and on the subsequent successful application by the joint venture entity for a full bank licence to carry on digital banking.
- Advised UBS as the first regulated financial institution to make an investment in EndowUs, one of Singapore’s leading robo-advisors and which is the only digital advisor that allows individuals to invest using their CPF savings.
Norton Rose Fulbright
At Norton Rose Fulbright, the international fintech and financial services regulatory group based in Singapore comprises individuals who boast complementary experience in banking and finance, securities, insurance, compliance and financial crime investigations. Showcasing in-depth knowledge of global and regional regulations, the team is well versed in cross-border transactional and regulatory matters, and excels in advising leading global banks, insurance companies, fintech start-ups and conglomerates on their financial regulatory obligations. The firm particularly stands out for its broad capabilities in the fintech space, where it advises on P2P platforms, payment systems, AI, blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Jointly leading the practice are technology and innovation partner Stella Cramer, whose experience includes global compliance programmes for financial institutions and disruptors in the financial services sector in the APAC region, and Yu-En Ong, who specialises in structured finance. Corporate and regulatory insurance partner Anna Tipping is a name to note for InsurTech mandates, while financial markets specialist Colin Rice advises on financial services regulations, derivatives and fintech ventures.
Other key lawyers:
Anna Tipping; Colin Rice; Craig Loveless; Wilson Ang
‘The team is very collaborative and provides sound advice relating to queries. In addition, the team is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that potential future internal development is tracked and supported as well.’
‘They are very responsive and provide relevant updates and information. In addition, they are extremely well versed in their speciality and will follow up to ensure that the client obtains what is needed. Shout out to Stella and her team!’
- Advised AXA S.A. on the sale of its life and general insurance operations in Singapore to HSBC Insurance Holdings Ltd, for a total cash consideration of $529m.
- Advised Singlife and Aviva Singapore (part of the Singlife Group) on the combination of the two businesses by a court-approved scheme of transfer of the business of Singlife to AvivaSingapore, now renamed Singapore Life Limited.
- Continuing to advise numerous global financial institutions, and in the last 12 months JPMorgan, Allianz, NordLB, Deutsche Bank have joined the existing stable of Standard Chartered Bank, RBS, CA-CIB, HSBC, CBA, OCBC, DBS, UOB, Macquarie and BNP Paribas as to whether credit default insurance purchased by them to protect against the risk of non-payment by obligors meets the legal requirements imposed by Basel III and the relevant local implementing regulations such that the insurance can provide eligible credit risk mitigation and thus enable the banks to take capital relief through substitution of exposures.
Allen & Overy
The Singapore-based group dedicated to financial services regulatory matters forms part of Allen & Overy‘s wider regional APAC practice, and is a hub for advice on regulatory developments in the region. Recently, the department has been particularly active in providing support to global and regional financial institutions on licensing and regulatory compliance, and on the launch of new products in Singapore. Payment services regulations, digital banking and online trading platforms are other areas of focus for the department, which is under the leadership of Shuhui Kwok. Kwok, who is a Singapore law qualified lawyer, is counsel of choice for banks, insurers, broker-dealers, payment services providers and financial advisors on regulatory issues affecting the financial services industry. At the associate level, Yu Jia Ang is recommended for non-contentious financial services regulatory and compliance matters, while Cedric Lindenmann focuses on technology and data-related issues in the fintech space.
Other key lawyers:
Yu Jia Ang; Cedric Lindenmann
‘Kwok Shuhui – very friendly, has a close-knit team, very calm and commercial-minded.’
United Overseas Bank (UOB)
Leapfrog Investment Partners
- Acted for a consortium led by the Chinese state-owned enterprise Greenland Financial Holdings Group Co. Ltd on their successful bid for a wholesale digital banking licence in Singapore, and thereafter on the roll out of Green Link Digital Bank.
- Advised United Overseas Bank (UOB) on the acquisition of Citigroup’s consumer banking franchise in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for approximately SGD4.915bn.
- Assisted LeapFrog Investment Partners in respect of its strategic partnership in which Temasek, a Singapore sovereign wealth fund, agreed to fund up to $500m in multiple fund investments managed by LeapFrog.
Gibson Dunn‘s financial regulatory capabilities were significantly strengthened by the recent arrival of specialist Grace Chong, who has a strong background of acting for global banks, hedge funds, investment managers, crypto exchanges, sovereign wealth funds, insurers and major fintech firms in relation to regulatory and commercial work across Singapore and Hong Kong. Chong, who moved from Simmons & Simmons in January 2022 and is now leading the department, draws on her previous experience at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and continues to play a pivotal role in regional regulatory reform initiatives affecting the financial services and fintech sectors. The firm now fields the ability to provide end-to-end regulatory support, cutting across regulatory investigations, enforcement matters, anti-money laundering, new digital product launches and the full range of digital assets mandates.
Other key lawyers:
Alfie Lim; Toh Qingxiang
‘Grace and her team have been exceptional in going the extra mile with their legal advisory service and helping us with the licensing process. Grace goes the extra mile, is always available and able to debate on legal ideas, and stand in the shoes of the client.’
‘They have volunteered their time with us to assist us with multiple initiatives within this sector especially assisting us with liaising with the industry participants together with the regulators in Singapore. They have allocated a lot of time and attention to our non-profit as they understand our resource constraints and are very fair in providing us with advice that consistently reflects the voices of our industry.’
‘Active contributors to strengthening the Fintech and Blockchain ecosystem in Singapore.’
‘Grace Chong is outstanding when it comes to participating in the industry knowledge sessions to constantly learn what the new developments of the Fintech and Blockchain scene are. She quickly picks up on the new innovations of the space and is very well versed in her legal knowledge to show what can be done. She exercises neutrality and has always accurately reflected what the industry and regulators have voiced. She is extremely helpful when connecting us with other contacts in this space that make meaningful contributions towards the industry.’
Diners Club (Singapore) Private Limited
- Sole counsel leading an industry coalition (ACCESS, Blockchain Association Singapore and Singapore Fintech Association) task working group drafting best practices for advertising with regard to digital assets advertising in Singapore, which has been a highly contentious and significant issue for many digital assets players.
- Assisting Coinbase with queries regarding regulatory notifications and licensing submissions, regulatory assessments of new products and services, review of corporate documents and policies, development of travel rule procedures, token review assessments, and other advice for the region.
Simmons & Simmons
Following the departure of former practice head Grace Chong, the financial regulatory and fintech group at Simmons & Simmons in Singapore was reinforced by the arrival of tech and blockchain specialist Yingyu Wang and a team of associates from Taylor Vinters Via LLC. The team offers legal support to an array of clients, ranging from banks, digital asset exchanges, brokers and payment service providers, on licensing, regulatory and product development matters. Ashleigh Low stands out at the associate level for his in-depth knowledge of fintech and financial services regulatory issues.
Other key lawyers:
Yingyu Wang; Ashleigh Low; Anita Ahamad; Shannon Ker
Marshall Wace Investment Strategies
Goldzip / the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society
Infinity Ventures Crypto (IVC)
Salad Ventures Limited
- Acted for Marshall Wace in its series J investment in Pine Labs Pte Ltd., a fintech payments unicorn.
- Assisted in the set-up of the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society’s digital gold token issuance/redemption business, GoldZip, which is based in Singapore.
- Advising the Bit.Country team on the legal and regulatory issues and requirements in relation to the NUUM and NEER tokens, the use of NFTs, and the particular metaverse-related products and services made available in the virtual worlds.