Category:FinTech Industry & Regulation

What happens when electronic signatures are affixed without authority?
Blockchain Fuels Crypto Valley Zug
The future of Fintech event, San Francisco, 1 November
A guide to doing FinTech business in the U.S. and Germany
More regulatory sandboxes
Will Blockchain in Healthcare Inform Fintech?
The Sandbox is getting crowded
FinTech hub ecosystems
Australia’s first listed FinTech investment company
Regtech Earns a Name

What happens when electronic signatures are affixed without authority?

By Jim Bulling and Julia Baldi

A recent NSW Supreme Court decision, Williams Group Australia Pty Ltd v Crocker [2016] NSWCA 265, found that a personal guarantee was not enforceable against an individual where the electronic signature had been affixed without the knowledge or authority of the individual.

This finding applied notwithstanding that the electronic signature was a ‘genuine’ signature uploaded to the relevant execution system “HelloFax”, and that Williams Group Australia Pty, who sought to rely on the signature, had no knowledge of any impropriety with respect to the affixation of the signature.

The Court appeared to approve existing authority which provided the placement of a ‘genuine’ electronic signature on a document without any authority would likely amount to forgery at common law. Such a forgery could not be ratified, and would render the contract void.

The case is a reminder for any person seeking to rely on electronically signed documents to have in place adequate steps and protections to ensure all electronic signatures have been affixed with proper authority. Even a ‘genuine’ electronic signature may be unenforceable against an individual if it is affixed without proper authority.

Blockchain Fuels Crypto Valley Zug

By Susan P. Altman

Blockchain startups are fueling growth of innovative companies in the small canton of Zug, Switzerland, dubbed the “Crypto Valley” (and yes, it’s written as “CryptoValley” in German, and not translated into “CryptoTal”). This approximately 20-mile valley between Zurich and Zug is home to the Ethereum Foundation and more than a dozen other blockchain technology companies. Crypto Valley has a long way to go before it catches up to blockchain investment levels seen in Silicon Valley or the other top investment countries of UK, Israel, Sweden, Germany and Argentina. What is driving Crypto Valley’s growth?

CoinDesk reports that the laissez-faire philosophy that makes Swiss banks so valuable is the same philosophy driving the development of Crypto Valley. Switzerland, with its deeply decentralized government, appears to be a fertile environment in which innovation can flourish. For instance, Zug’s local government is experimenting with permitting citizens to pay for government services up to 200 Swiss francs (just over USD 200) with bitcoin. Switzerland has a host of other advantages for blockchain innovation: a stable, neutral political system, low taxes (especially in Zug), a renowned culture of financial privacy, and an available talent pool. It will be interesting to watch whether and how the decentralized political and economic environment of Switzerland accelerates the decentralized promise of blockchain technology.

The future of Fintech event, San Francisco, 1 November

K&L Gates will be co-hosting an event with the Silicon Vikings in San Francisco on Tuesday November 1st. This will be a panel session with presenting companies including: Checkbook, bitwage, StratiFi and Qwil. An event not to be missed.

The panel will include:

  • Sanjiv Das, Professor of Finance, Santa Clara University
  • Jacob Sisk, VP Payments & Data Science, CapitalOne
  • Tyler He, Business Development, Tencent
  • Moderator & Event Chair:  Shikhar Das, Assistera

Details of the event:

  • Date/time: Tuesday, November 1st, 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm
  • Location:  K&L Gates, 4 Embarcadero Center, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94103 (google maps)
  • Register: Click here for more details or to register to attend

For any queries, please contact K&L Gates partner, Lars Johansson.

A guide to doing FinTech business in the U.S. and Germany

“Getting the Deal Through” is a publication that provides international expert analysis in key areas of law, practice and regulation for corporate counsel, cross-border legal practitioners, and company directors and officers.

The inaugural edition of Fintech serves as a resource to help fintech entrepreneurs and their advisers and investors around the world navigate the often complex key legal and regulatory issues on which we are most often asked to advise. Two of the chapters were authored by K&L Gates lawyers.

The Germany chapter is authored by Dr. Hilger von Livonius, Dr. Friederike Gräfin von Brühl and Dr. Thomas Nietsch.

The United States chapter is authored by Judith Rinearson, Robert Zinn, Anthony NolanC. Todd Gibson and Andrew Reibman.

To read this publication, click here.

More regulatory sandboxes

By Jim Bulling and Michelle Chasser

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has released details of the framework for Malaysia’s regulatory sandbox. The finalisation of the framework follows a consultation which began in July.

Under the sandbox framework BNM may consider granting regulatory exemptions to applicants for the purpose of testing an innovative product, service or solution for a period of up to 12 months.

Applicants wishing to apply for the sandbox should have innovations which are ready for testing and have the potential to:

  • improve the accessibility, efficiency, security and quality of financial services;
  • enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of Malaysian financial institutions’ management of risks; or
  • address gaps in or open up new opportunities for financing or investments in the Malaysian economy.

Read More

Will Blockchain in Healthcare Inform Fintech?

By Susan P. Altman

Blockchain is now a focus of the financial industry, but the technology could become widely used in the healthcare industry too, according to an article in Becker’s Health IT and CIO Review.  Bruce Broussard, CEO and President of Humana, believes blockchain will become the next big healthcare technology innovation, particularly with respect to payments and payer contracts.  Because the parties to those kinds of contracts (healthcare provider on one side and healthcare payer (such as a health insurer) on the other) may now have a safe and reliable way to share information without going through cumbersome central databases, information, as well as contractual processes, would be automatically verified and authorized.  The end benefits may include lower administration costs, faster claims processing and less fraud.  These are similar to the benefits that may arise from the use of blockchain in the financial industry.


Another healthcare application of blockchain may realize the holy grail of sharing health information across many healthcare systems by eliminating the middleman holding the central database and providing formerly disconnected parties with a safe information network. As with the financial industry, eliminating the middleman will have tremendous ripple effects throughout the healthcare industry.  If the healthcare industry successfully implements blockchain, it stands to reason that innovations in healthcare technology will loop back to further push innovations in fintech.

The Sandbox is getting crowded

By Jonathan Lawrence

In a recent speech delivered at the British Bankers’ Association FinTech Banking Conference, Christopher Woolard, the Director of Strategy and Competition at the UK Financial Conduct Authority spoke about the high level of interest in the FCA’s Regulatory Sandbox for FinTech ventures. The Sandbox aims to create a ‘safe space’ in which FinTech businesses can test innovative products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in a live environment without immediately incurring all the normal regulatory consequences of engaging in the activity.

Of 69 applications to join the Sandbox, the FCA has accepted 24 to develop towards testing. The FCA’s team has been expanded to meet demand. 40 of the unsuccessful first time applicants will be offered assistance via Project Innovate or other FCA staff, in some cases to prepare for the next cohort of the Sandbox.

Read More

FinTech hub ecosystems

By Jonathan Lawrence

A recent EY study looks at how the UK FinTech ecosystem compares to that of California, New York, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia based on their status as FinTech hubs. The report considers four attributes in each region:

  • Talent (availability and pipeline)
  • Capital (seed, growth and listed)
  • Policy (regulatory regimes, government programmes and taxation policy)
  • Demand (consumer, corporate and financial institution)

The analysis was commissioned by the UK Government to inform policy and support the sector. It also includes case studies on Israel and China.

The study gives extremely interesting comparative data across the regions and provides recommendations for the UK Government based on the experience in other countries.

Australia’s first listed FinTech investment company

By Russell Lyons, David Bath and Marie Zuo

On or around 19 October 2016, H2Ocean is proposing to list on the Australian Securities Exchange as a listed investment company (LIC). Following a successful initial public offering (IPO), H2 Ocean will become Australia’s first LIC focused on investing in early and growth stage FinTech companies. H2Ocean proposes to invest in between 15 and 50 FinTech startups which will have typically graduated from an incubator or accelator program or will be backed by a reputable venture capital firm. These startups will be based in both Australia and overseas.

The H2Ocean IPO will allow potential investors to be exposed to FinTech investments and venture capital as an alternative asset class, which might not otherwise be directly accessible to the public. This unique offering in the Australian market comes at a time where global FinTech financing is trending towards venture capital backed FinTech companies and is expected to reach a record high in 2016.

So far, H2Ocean has gained support from Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian co-founder, who will be subscribing for shares in the IPO. Mike Cannon-Brookes backed Australian payments company Tyro in its $100 million capital raising at the end of 2015.

Treasurer Scott Morrison also attended the H2Ocean launch last week. With high profile supporters and as Australia’s first listed FinTech investment company, H2Ocean is another encouraging sign for Australia’s FinTech future.

Regtech Earns a Name

By Susan Altman

Technology solutions for bank regulatory requirements have been around for decades, but their soaring popularity has led to them earning their own nickname within the fintech world: they’re now “regtech” solutions, according to a new report issued by Bain & Co. in the American Banker.  Regtech products are designed to benefit banks’ efforts to comply with growing regulatory burdens and improve internal governance controls.  Bain estimates that governance, risk and compliance costs account for 15% to 20% of the total “run the bank” cost base of most major banks.  It’s no small wonder that banks are struggling to devise a robust and efficient approach to compliance and are outsourcing the implementation and hosting of advanced compliance tools with nimble regtech-focused outside vendors.  Bain has identified more than 80 emerging regtechs that extract and structure data, integrate data from banks’ proprietary systems, third-party data providers and public sources, and crunch the data in automated, scalable ways.  Artificial intelligence, or machine learning, continuously improves the quality, precision and reliability of the insights that emerge.

Bain predicts that banks’ relationships with regtechs will be significantly shaped by regulators, in the form of governance, risk and compliance standards and approval of proposed solutions. As new requirements go into effect, banks will need to continuously assess the level of functionality, complexity and efficiency of current technology, systems and data.  And did we mention, this all has to be done in a very secure environment?

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