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Hogan Lovells to fund female led FinTechs

Hogan Lovells announces during UK FinTech Week that applications are open to its Global FinTech Mentor and Momentum Program for 2021-22. This year, the firm will focus on selecting and supporting female led FinTechs, as part of its commitment to diversity and inclusion. To date around 10% of successful applicants for the Program have had women founders or leaders, including Dozens (Gemma Steel), Flexy (Joanna Mansbridge) and Rodi (Ilia Mallioras).

The Program is open to FinTechs at any stage of development, from start-ups to more established growth players. Interested businesses, particularly in the areas of banking, lending, payments, insurance, investments, and sustainable finance, are welcome to apply throughout 2021 for complimentary or subsidised support from Hogan Lovells. The firm is committed to empowering the female FinTech community, and is aiming for at least half of successful applications from female led FinTechs.

Globally, just 3% of FinTechs were founded by women as of 2019, according to Deloitte Insights published in October 2020, which also found that funding for FinTechs founded or co-founded by women was significantly less than for men. Innovate finance reported in January this year that female founded FinTechs accounted for 17% of the UK’s total FinTech venture capital investments over 2020, up 6% from 2019. Yet KPMG’s UK FinTech Focus 2020 found that female founded FinTechs are more resilient to the pandemic, with more in cash reserves.

Commenting, Hogan Lovells Head of FinTech and Innovation Emily Reid, said: “What we are seeing is that, despite the challenges of the pandemic, female-led FinTechs represent a well-run and competitive investment proposition. However the levels of investment remain nowhere near on a par with male-led counterparts. We recognise their potential and hope to harness it through our Global FinTech Mentor and Momentum Program this year, empowering female-led FinTechs to grow and achieve a greater share of the market and investment.”

Launched at Innovate Finance Global Summit (IFGS) in April 2017, the successful Program is entering its fifth year. To date, Hogan Lovells investment has totalled over a million pounds in support of around 25 FinTechs; providing each with up to £25,000 in free legal services, together with a 30% discount to the free advice, to make it go further. This is in addition to the same discount on advice provided after or outside the scope of the program, as well as access to industry events and networking opportunities with the firm’s existing clients in the FinTech space.

Hogan Lovells Head of Financial Services Regulation, Rachel Kent, said: “We offer more than just legal advice through our Global FinTech Mentors and Momentum Program, we share our extensive industry knowledge, our connections, content and tools to help the selected applicants launch, expand and succeed within a complex regulatory framework that is constantly evolving and can be tricky to navigate, but is essential for a long term sustainable business.”

Those selected are assigned a dedicated relationship manager who will ensure they receive maximum value from Program membership by guiding them through the suite of support options on offer:

  • Commercial insight on how financial services businesses can successfully launch and scale-up
  • Access to the firm’s cross-border FinTech network
  • Networking with current and previous mentees
  • Training opportunities through a host of firm and industry events
  • A package of affordable corporate and regulatory advice, from contracts, compliance and collaboration agreements to employment law, fund raising and structuring
  • Guidance on the financial services regulatory landscape for FinTechs post-Brexit
  • Free or subsidised access to the firm’s suite of LawTech tools offered on Hogan Lovells Engage, including the Consumer Credit Academy, PISP/AISP Authorisation Toolkits, Payment Services Academy and Blockchain Tools, among others while on the program
  • Support from Hogan Lovells Consulting team for regulatory advice on everything from authorisation to building a scalable compliance framework.

Hogan Lovells is ideally placed to provide this support, long positioned at the heart of the FinTech industry. The firm advised on the establishment of the UK’s first internet only bank; on the launch of Zopa – the world’s first peer-to-peer lender; and of a mobile P2P payments service – the first of its kind in the UK market. Head of Financial Services Regulation Rachel Kent co-chaired the policy and regulation chapter of the recently published UK FinTech Strategic Review, in February 2021.

More details on the Program and how to apply can be found here.

Hogan Lovells invests in FinTech start-up Fygo

Hogan Lovells is supporting the launch of an innovative free automatic student rewards app from COVID-19 start-up Fygo, one of the firm’s FinTech Mentor and Momentum Program 2020 cohort.

Launched in April 2017, through the Program, FinTech organisations in Asia, the EU and UK at any stage of development, from start-ups to established momentum players in strong growth mode, can apply for complimentary or subsidised support from Hogan Lovells.

Recipients benefit from extensive industry knowledge from Hogan Lovells’ commercial insights, access to the firm’s global network, legal and compliance training, industry events and use of the firm’s FinTech tools, up to a maximum value of £25,000 for any one company.

Founded during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fintech start-up Fygo has conceived and brought to market, with the help of Hogan Lovells, an innovative automatic student rewards app. Launching initially at Durham University, the free mobile app allows students and staff to link their bank cards to the app through a secure interface, and instantly and automatically receive cashback when they spend using a linked card at Fygo partners, without having to say, show, or scan anything.

For participating businesses, partnering with Fygo provides an affordable cost, hassle and commitment free solution to acquire more Generation Z customers and increase revenue. The in-built tracking system providing insights to help them better understand their customers and competitive positioning, with access to customer analytics, and to improve their service and products.

Commenting, Hogan Lovells FinTech Mentor and Fygo relationship lead, counsel Oliver Irons, said: “The global pandemic has totally changed how we live and work, and whilst it has presented many challenges, some positives that can be drawn are the advancement of technology, and innovation to adapt to constantly changing circumstances. The team at Fygo identified a way to support both students and businesses through harnessing their technology, and have worked tirelessly to make their concept a reality. They are deserving recipients of our FinTech Mentor and Momentum Program support package, and it has been hugely interesting and rewarding working with them. We wish them the very best for the pilot in Durham, and look forward to a continuing relationship.”

“Being accepted onto Hogan Lovells FinTech cohort 2020 was an enormous boost for us. They have provided superb strategic advice on several of our key business activities. The team’s diligent approach has ensured we are building a product capable of launching and scaling quickly. Being amongst top European start-ups has inspired us to sharpen our product’s value proposition and continue putting everything we have into building something people want!” said Jonah Lowenstein, Co-Founder at Fygo.

For further information about Hogan Lovells FinTech Mentor and Momentum Program, see here.

Businesses will be onboarded from March 2021, and the app is expected to launch to students in early April. Businesses can find out more via blog, podcast or video. Students can join the waiting list here.

Herbert Smith Freehills advises on sale of Earnd to Greensill Capital

Herbert Smith Freehills’ private equity and venture capital team has advised on the sale of 100% of Earnd to Greensill Capital. Founded by Josh Vernon and Serge Kotlyarov, Earnd’s platform enables employees to access their pay packet on-demand as they earn it, facilitated through their employer payroll systems.

The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by partner and Australian Head of Venture Capital Peter Dunne, consultant Elizabeth Henderson, and solicitor Lisa Alderson.

Elizabeth Henderson said, “Earnd is an incredible example of Australian fintech innovation and business talent. In less than two years, Earnd has grown from a small start-up into a serious challenger in the financial services space. We have enjoyed working with Earnd’s founders and investors who believed in the company and have enabled it to reach this great milestone.”

Earnd’s co-founder and CEO, Josh Vernon, said, “Peter, Elizabeth, Lisa and the team at Herbert Smith Freehills were incredible partners throughout the acquisition process. We felt as if we had a friendly yet deeply professional and competent team on our side and, for a first-time founder, they made the journey a breeze. It was nothing short of a pleasure working with them and we look forward to working together in the future.”

This deal is another example of Herbert Smith Freehills’ market-leading work in Australian venture capital. Other recent examples include:

  • Adairs Limited in its NZ$80 million acquisition of Mocka Group from its founders;
  • Deputy Group on its A$111 million Series B capital raise;
  • Culture Amp on its A$120 million Series E capital raise;
  • Nura on its A$21 million Series A capital raise;
  • Expert360 on its A$12 million Series C capital raise;
  • Roborigger on its Series A capital raise; and
  • Reejig on its Series Seed capital raise.

Laka gears up for European expansion with latest $4.7m investment

Browne Jacobson’s corporate technology team has advised the founders of InsurTech startup Laka on raising $4.7m funding to fund the next stage of its growth strategy.

The round was led by leading venture capital firms LocalGlobe and Creandum, with Yes VC (the venture fund founded by Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr, and Jyri Engestrom, co-founder of Jaiku and Ditto) and prominent angel investors, Nick Evans (Chairman of Rapha) and Oren Peleg (former CEO of Fitness First), amongst others, also investing.

The investment will be used by founders Ben Allen, Jens Hartwig and Tobias Taupitz to grow its footprint across Europe, establish its EU base in the Netherlands later this year and further develop its product portfolio. This will include a recovery and health product designed specifically to help cyclists who have experienced injury or accident to access the right services.

Founded in 2017, Laka specialises in insuring high-end bicycles in the UK and has developed a unique insurance model in which the cost of claims is split fairly between customers, with premiums capped at market rate for customer protection. Fewer claims lead to lower costs. On average Laka’s users have saved more than 80% compared to market prices.

Browne Jacobson’s London based team comprised corporate technology partner Jon Snade, associate Harry Pearson and senior associate Nicole Judah. Jon also led the team that advised Laka on its last successful seed round in 2018 which raised $1.5m.

Tobi Taupitz, CEO of Laka, said: “Cyclists should be able to completely trust their insurance providers – through our community-based approach, we are bringing our customers, many of whom have previously been ill-served by legacy players, a product that ensures fair treatment, trustability and transparency.

“We’ve seen a fantastic response from the British cycling community, who have become our greatest advocates, and we’re looking forward to launching Laka across Europe and beyond.”

Remus Brett, partner at LocalGlobe, added: “The beauty of Laka is it returns insurance to its pure, mutual heritage. Laka’s members and their shared interests incentivise positive behaviour which in turn benefits the entire community.

“These principles are over 300 years old, the difference being technology and increasing consumer awareness that traditional insurance models, with complex clauses, excesses and a painful claims process are fundamentally broken.”

Carl Fritjofsson, partner at Creandum, commented: “The word disruption is used all too often in the world of entrepreneurship, but with Laka it actually fits very well. This is a fundamentally unique and different approach that turns the old business model of insurers upside down.

“Laka truly improves the user experience 10x as well as lowers costs for its policyholders, all while providing a fair and transparent insurance coverage. What’s not to love?”

Jon Snade, concluded: “We are once again delighted to have used our extensive market knowledge and sector expertise to help Laka secure investment towards realising its growth ambitions outside the UK. Its business model is genuinely market disrupting and it’s a pleasure to support businesses that are truly innovative.”

Browne Jacobson has built a reputation for its innovative approach to delivering legal services to startups following the launch of the Grow programme in 2017 and which is tailored specifically for high-growth companies at any stage of the start-up journey. The firm works with over 100 high-growth businesses across a broad range of sectors but notably in InsurTech and FinTech.

Pinsent Masons gets cloud guidance improved for insurers

International law firm Pinsent Masons has seen a number of its recommendations enacted following its response to EIOPA’s consultation on cloud guidance, making it easier for insurers to comply with their regulatory requirements.

The guidance, which sets to place strict regulatory demands on insurers in respect of both the contents of their contracts with cloud providers and their governance of those contracts, has been under review since June 2019, with the final guidelines now being issued.

In its response to the consultation, the firm raised a number of concerns about both the wording of and rationale for some areas of EIOPA’s draft guidance. Those concerns addressed fundamental matters such as the scope of the guidance and potentially confusing concepts and terminology. They also focused on the requirements around the content of insurers’ cloud contracts, their exit planning, the extent of information that insurers would have to document about their contractual requirements, and the location of data in the cloud.

Pinsent Masons’ recommendations have led to the re-drafting of certain definitions, the removal of unclear language and greater clarity and alignment with the European Banking Authority (EBA).

Some of the changes included the removal of references to ‘material outsourcing’ to describe the concept of a ‘critical or important operational function’. EIOPA also agreed to drop plans that require insurers to assume that their purchase of goods or services from, or entry into arrangements with, cloud providers constitute outsourcing arrangements that are subject to its guidance in cases where the matter is unclear. They also deleted wording around having ‘directly measurable’ service levels specified in contracts after the firm said it was it was unclear how insurers could comply with that obligation.

Commenting on the guidelines, head of Fintech propositions at Pinsent Masons, Luke Scanlon said: “When regulators bring out guidance and impose rules which vary slightly from other requirements for regulated entities, this can lead to unintended consequences and cost for financial institutions. Ultimately, this cost is borne by the customer and therefore it is positive to see that EIOPA has taken the views of the sector into account and made some adjustments to its final guidance.

“In our response to the consultation we put forward the views of our clients impacted by this guidance to ensure that the final guidelines are fit for purpose. This is particularly important following recent data from the Bank of England which shows that insurers are falling behind with regards to the adoption of cloud based technology in comparison to banks. We hope that these changes will now facilitate far greater adoption across the sector.”

All new cloud outsourcing arrangements entered into or amended on or after 1 January 2021 will be subject to the guidelines, while insurers will have until the end of 2022 to bring cloud outsourcing contracts entered into prior to that date into line with the new requirements.

Browne Jacobson tech team advises on £208m Hastee investment

Browne Jacobson’s corporate technology team has successfully advised London fintech start-up Hastee on securing £208m of funding, comprising of both equity and a unique credit facility, including on the corporate aspects of a new, unique £200m credit line. The investment was led by Umbra Capital and supported by IDC Ventures and others.

Established in 2017 by James Herbert, Hastee will use the investment to develop and grow its award winning, revolutionary Hastee app which allows workers immediate access to 50% of their earned pay on-demand, reducing reliance on payday loans, credit cards and overdrafts.

An employee can withdraw up to £100 free of charge every month. Subsequent withdrawals are subject to a 2.5 per cent transaction fee. The employee withdrawals are initially funded by Hastee which is subsequently reimbursed by employers on each normal pay day. There is no cost to employers and the solution can integrate with existing HR and payroll processes. Clients include London City Airport, IRIS – the largest privately held software company in the UK, recruitment specialists Brightsparks, Avery Care Homes and pub and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers, whose brands include All Bar One and O’Neill’s, amongst others.

Browne Jacobson’s London based team of Jon Snade and Harry Pearson advised Hastee on all legal matters of the investment, as well as assisting with the corporate aspects of a new £200m credit line from Umbra, which will be used to pay employees directly.

James Herbert, Hastee founder and CEO, said: “We are delighted that our investors, led by Umbra, have chosen to partner with us as we bring financial freedom to people across the country. This investment will help us support a greater number of organisations in reducing financial stress, increasing wellbeing and improving the productivity of their employees and, as a result, their organisations.”

Browne Jacobson corporate finance and tech partner Jon Snade added: “We are delighted to have advised Hastee on this significant investment package for the business. Hastee has seen incredible growth since it was formed two years ago and this latest investment will play a huge role in helping to reach new clients and sectors. It shows that there remains a strong appetite amongst investors in fintech starts ups such as Hastee that offer cutting edge tech solutions which have strong prospects of delivering a healthy return on investment.”

Browne Jacadvobson has built a reputation for its innovative approach to delivering legal services to start ups following the launch of its hugely successful Grow programme in 2017 and which is tailored specifically for high-growth companies at any stage of the start-up journey. The firm works with over 100 high-growth businesses through Grow across a broad range of sectors but notably in fintech and insurtech.