Since its emergence into the mainstream over the last few years, the financial technology (‘FinTech’) sector has captured the interest and imagination of entrepreneurs, investors, governments and regulators, not to mention incumbent financial institutions and asset managers. The disruptive technologies and business models that lie at the heart of the FinTech revolution often raise a range of novel legal and regulatory issues.
The FinTech sector sits at the confluence of three of the four industry sectors on which Simmons & Simmons focuses. Our longstanding focus on the Financial Institutions, Asset Management and Investment Funds and TMT sectors has allowed us to combine our industry experience in these sectors with our specialist legal expertise, to create a market leading FinTech team. Our FinTech team is ranked in Band 1 in Legal 500 UK and is described by our clients as ‘very knowledgeable’ and providing a ‘great partner service’ that is ‘available 24/7’ and ‘genuinely adds value’. Our FinTech team was also awarded Islamic Finance News’ 2017 IFN Law Award for FinTech, find out more here. In 2018 the IFN Deal of the Year in the cross-border category was GoCompare’s investment in Souqalmal.com on which we advised GoCompare.
Our FinTech team advises clients operating across the FinTech sector, from start-ups to some of the biggest names in the industry. We also advise businesses partnering with or investing in FinTech firms as well as financial institutions and asset managers developing their own FinTech products and services.
We are recognised as thought leaders in the legal sector for FinTech. For example:
- we are the only law firm to have been invited to join the Bank of England’s FinTech Community. The Bank formed the Community to enhance its ability to achieve its strategic aims to help the Bank harness FinTech innovations for central banking and to build its knowledge of these new technologies. The membership of the Community is limited by invitation to “those firms most relevant to the Bank’s remit and FinTech objectives”
- we were invited to be the Contributing Editors of Getting The Deal Through: FinTech, a new publication that answers 50 of the key legal and regulatory questions that arise for businesses operating in the FinTech sector. The second edition of the guide was published in October 2017 and now covers 23 jurisdictions. The Simmons & Simmons FinTech team authors the chapters for Belgium, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, UK and UAE – you can download a copy of the guide from elexica here
- we are a Legal Partner to the Dubai International Financial Centre’s FinTech Hive. FinTech Hive is the Middle East’s first FinTech accelerator programme. Our role includes mentoring participants, providing a legal clinic (through the DIFC) and general advisory work around profile raising for this important DIFC initiative
- we were also invited by the Singaporean regulator (MAS) to act as outreach partners for their first FinTech Hackcelerator initiative during their inaugural Singapore FinTech Festival in November 2016
- the head of our FinTech team, Angus McLean, was invited to join the judging panel of FinTech industry experts for the Open Up Challenge. The Open Up Challenge is a £5m prize fund to reward next-generation services, apps and tools that will help UK small businesses get more from their banking. It is run by the leading UK Government-backed innovation think tank Nesta following recommendations arising out of the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s retail banking market investigation. Angus is the only lawyer on the judging panel.
Nurturing the FinTech lawyers of the future
- in early 2016 we established a joint Student Support programme with the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), Queen Mary University, London to work in the area of FinTech and Regulatory Technology (RegTech). The objective of the initiative is to provide professional input to post-graduate Masters of Law (LLM) students on their FinTech and RegTech research dissertations. This includes holding separate introductory and research finding presentation events. The initiative brings together cutting edge academic and professional expertise in this key area of modern financial law and market development.
The Simmons & Simmons FinTech Fund
As a result of our experience of working with businesses across the FinTech industry, we understand how difficult it can be for early-stage FinTech businesses to obtain expert legal advice. We also understand how crucially important receiving the right kind of advice can be to the long-term prospects of those businesses. This led to us launching a dedicated £100,000 fund in May 2016 to help promising FinTech start-ups solve the challenging legal or regulatory problems that could otherwise slow down their development or, in some cases, prevent them from getting off the ground altogether. This was the first fund of its kind offered in the legal industry in the UK. More information about the first fund is available here.
The receipts for the second cohort of Simmons & Simmons FinTech Fund were officially announced at our event in September 2017. The successful businesses are:
- BestX - a software company providing independent trade technology and TCA analytics to enable clients to achieve and demonstrate Best Execution
- Laka- a bicycle insurance product earning revenues whilst acting in their customers’ best interest: settling their claims
- Xelix - a SaaS tool that facilitates the process of early settlement discount between large corporates and their suppliers
- Feedstock - a research analytics, valuation and compliance solution for the asset management industry.
Hear more about these exciting startups from their founders by watching our short video:
Last year’s fund has already proved invaluable to the first cohort of recipient companies. Watch the short video below to hear their thoughts:
- Alterest - bringing transparency to non-bank credit markets.
- Cuvva - hourly car insurance on-demand.
- Railsbank - banking as a platform.
- Tallysticks - using blockchain to automate invoicing processes.