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Kristi Swartz

Partner
Her experience and current work is immensely valuable. She is a leading proponent of the Hong Kong FinTech landscape, beyond the scope of legal counsel.
Chambers Fintech Guide (China), 2023
About

Kristi Swartz is an experienced fintech lawyer and has been instrumental in developing Hong Kong’s fintech ecosystem. As the leading fintech partner at DLA Piper, she advises clients on an array of matters including structuring, licensing, and corporate governance. She also provides advice in respect to digital assets, stablecoins, payments/alternative payments, and the licensing and development of equity crowdfunding, robo advisory and the running of compliant crypto exchanges to name just a few.

Kristi has practiced in Hong Kong for over 20 years. With a background in regulatory compliance, she is committed to bringing new concepts to market. Recognised as an industry leader, she is known for championing client with a client describing her as a “fintech superman”. The Legal 500, Regulatory 2021 comments that “Kristi has in-depth knowledge and is commercially orientated. She offers the most pragmatic solutions to clients and is an expert in her field. Her understanding of the commercial and evolving industry allows her to provide the most suitable advice to clients”.

Kristi cares deeply about our community and sits on the board of directors of the Faith In Love Foundation Limited (a Hong Kong registered charity) and Global Women Connect Limited (a Hong Kong registered charity), as well as being a founding member of the 30% Club’s Hong Kong chapter. Kristi also serves on The Women’s Foundation’s Fundraising Committee and is an active Ambassador.

Professional QualificationsSolicitor of the High Court of Hong KongSolicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales

EXPERIENCE

  • Acted on behalf of a Korean-based art-tech/fintech company operating an alternative investment platform and marketplace for the purchase, sale and trading of fractionalized ownership in investment-grade blue-chip artwork.
  • Acted on behalf of a leading digital asset trading and market-making platform. As a pioneer in the digital asset space the client offers programmatic execution services, liquidity provision, as well as custom-built options and complex structured products. Advised on a number of regulatory matters, including but not limited to advising on the Hong Kong law aspects of the creation of a lending market for a top 100 digital asset by market capitalization.
  • Acted on behalf of Hong Kong’s first Securities and Futures Commission licensed equity crowdfunding platform for professional investors. Advised the client since incorporation, assisting with the successful Securities and Futures Commission licensing applications for type 1 (dealing in securities) and type 4 (advising on securities) regulated activity. Further assisted the client with its proposal to offer investment opportunities to non-professional investors via its online platform in addition to professional investors.
  • Acted on behalf of a fintech start-up company in relation to its proposed offering of a proposed product in relation to buy-to-let properties. The project is novel in Hong Kong because it aimed to integrate blockchain technology to tokenize the shares for distribution to potential investors.
  • Acted on behalf of a select number of sellers (collectively representing the majority shareholders) on the sale of the entire equity interest in a Hong Kong-based securities brokerage and robo-advisory firm to a San Francisco-based personal finance company. The acquisition marks the first expansion of the buyer outside of the United States. Assisted with all aspects of the transaction, including drafting the transaction documentation, participating in the negotiations of the commercial terms and advising on Securities and Futures Commission regulatory considerations, corporate law and employment law.
  • Acted as external corporate counsel for the Asian arm of a mobile-first, online personal finance company with respect to the group’s international expansion. Acted as coordinating counsel to bridge the gap between overseas counsel and the client, oversaw local counsel with respect to licensing applications with the Money Authority of Singapore as well as the Dubai Financial Services Authority, and worked alongside local counsel to ensure that the client’s product offering, with particular reference to fractional share trading, will still be offered in new jurisdictions.
  • Acted on behalf of a New York Stock Exchange-listed global payment technology and solutions provider. Advised on the group’s internal restructuring following the acquisition of a US-listed peer company. The acquisition has secured the client’s position as a market leader with unmatched global reach to provide payment and software solutions to approximately 3.5 million merchants, 1,300 financial institutions and enables digital interactions with over 600 million cardholders.
  • Acted on behalf of a multinational technology company with respect to its payments services. We advised the client, from a Hong Kong perspective, as to the local regulations, disclosure and regulatory requirements in relation to its fraud protection service implemented for e-commerce payment transactions.
Languages
  • English
Education
  • LL.M., University of Hong Kong Law School 1998
  • The College of Law, Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, (LPC), 1996
  • Graduate Diploma in Law (CPE), University of Westminster 1995


    University of Central Texas, Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA), 1994


    B.B.A., Bachelor of Business Administration , University of Texas at Austin 1992

Awards

  • Ranked Band 1 in the 2023 Chambers Fintech Guide (China).
  • Recognized as a Leading Individual for Fintech in 2023 Legal 500.
  • Ranked by Chambers and Partners, Fintech Guide 2021 (Fintech Hong Kong Band 2).
  • Recognized as a "Leading Individual for Fintech" by Chambers and Partners in 2020.
  • Winner of the Euromoney Asia Women in Business Law, Corporate Governance Award, 2015-17.

Publications

  • SFC and HKMA Joint Circular on intermediaries' virtual asset-related activities, February 22, 2022
  • Decentralised Exchanges: The relevant considerations when mapping out how DEXs might be regulated, November 18, 2021
  • UPDATE | FSTB's Public Consultation on Legislative Proposals to Enhance AML and CTF Regulation, May 25, 2021
  • FSTB’s Public Consultation of Legislative Proposals to Enhance AML and CTF Regulation in Hong Kong, November 5, 2020
  • Virtual Banks in Hong Kong: Bringing Risk and Opportunities to Asia, August 1, 2018

Seminars

  • Crypto presentation to WorldPay, FIS APMEA conference, 21 February 2022
  • Joint crypto briefing with KPMG, 28 January 2022
  • Panellist, “LawTech, RegTech and Tokenisation”, SIS4.0, Hong Kong, December 2021
  • Moderator, “Where Law and IT Meet”, ScaleUp Impact Summit, May 2021
  • Judge, WHub Global Startup Competition, April 2021
  • StartUp Impact Summit, July 2020
  • “Purposeful Leadership”, World Café, 2020 Leadership Forum, July 2020
  • Panellist, World Blockchain Summit, Singapore, July 2019
  • Key Note Speaker & Panellist, Blockchain.News, Hong Kong, July 2019
  • Panellist, “Being diverse, being inclusive – what does it mean to you and how do we get there?”, Global Women Connect, London, United Kingdom, June 2019
  • Panellist, “BigLaw Partner to Firm Owner”, Women’s Power Summit, Center for Women in Law, Texas, USA, April 2019
  • Panellist, “#HeForShe”, CEIBS Female
  • Leadership Forum, Shanghai, PRC, February 2019

Prior Experience

Kristi has practiced law in Hong Kong for approximately 20 years and works with emerging growth companies through to listed multinational corporations in Hong Kong, United States, Asia and Europe. In 2018, she established a boutique firm, which in the few short years since its inception has garnered industry recognition as a bespoke fintech firm.

Prior to this she held the role of Hong Kong Managing Partner at an international law firm for five years.

Memberships And Affiliations

  • Board Member, Global Woman Connect
  • Board Member, Faith in Love Foundation
  • Circle of Leaders, Center for Women in Law – The University of Texas School of Law
  • Ambassador, The Women’s Foundation
  • Stanford SELP Alumni Association, Chief Events Officer
  • Founding member of the Hong Kong chapter of the 30% Club
  • Advisory Committee, LITE Lab (Hong Kong University)
  • AIIFL, Faculty of Law, HKU, Honorary Fellowship
  • Littlefield Society, The University of Texas at Austin

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