Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie is top-ranked law firm in Nigeria for fintech

05 Apr 2019, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria
Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie is top-ranked law firm in Nigeria for fintech

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Out of the 33 firms in the Chambers Global 2019 Nigeria rankings, only UUBO is featured in the highest-rated ranking (Band 1) of the dedicated Fintech guide.

From left: Yinka Edu, Partner and head of Fintech team; Jumoke Lambo, Partner and head of Telecommunications, Media and Technology team; Tolulope Osindero, Senior Associate in Fintech team, all of Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie

Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie (UUBO), a full-service multi-specialisation firm, has been recognised as Nigeria’s highest-rated law firm in the Fintech rankings released by Chambers and Partners, the world's leading research firm for the legal profession. The Fintech rankings are supplementary to Chambers Global Guide 2019, published on February 14.   
While the Global Guide is a go-to resource on specific practice areas in the legal profession – including Banking and Finance, Corporate/Commercial, and Dispute Resolution – the Fintech rankings feature legal advisers with the ability to provide legal and other professional services specifically to financial technology companies (Fintechs).

Out of the 33 firms in the Chambers Global 2019 Nigeria rankings, only UUBO is featured in the highest-rated ranking (Band 1) of the dedicated Fintech guide. Other firms ranked in the Fintech legal practice area are Olaniwun Ajayi LP and TNP – The New Practice (Band 2); AELEX and Banwo & Ighodalo (Band 3); Olajide Oyewole & Co and Templars (Band 4).

Edward Shum, Chambers' Editor for Africa, Caribbean, the Middle East and Offshore sections, told Financial Nigeria – the firm's Publishing Partner for the regional guide – that the Chambers' Fintech guide has a different schedule and launch date from the Global Guide. The imperative of its coverage by Chambers is the growing significance of Fintechs. Suffice to say, this has become an area that commands legal specialisation.

Fintechs are companies offering technology-driven and consumer-oriented financial products. They have gained recognition by revolutionising access to credit and other financial services. According to CB Insights, a New York-based tech market intelligence platform, global Fintech companies raised a record $39.57 billion from investors in 2018, 120 percent higher than the previous year. The number of deals from which the funding was raised was 1,707, which rose from 1,480 deals a year earlier.

Techpoint Africa said 2018 was the year of the Nigerian fintech sector. Nigerian startups generally raised about $73.7 million from venture capital investors in the second quarter of last year. Fintechs reportedly accounted for 75 percent of this funding. As an indication of the keen interest investors have in Nigeria, one of the leading Fintechs, Paga, raised $10 million in a Series B2 funding round last December.

Despite the various deals that have been closed, there are still many Fintech companies finding it difficult to access funding. There are also significant regulatory challenges to navigate in Nigeria where there is no specific regulatory framework for Fintech. These companies, nevertheless, need specialised law firms that can support their compliance with the multiple regulations and guidelines that govern Fintech operations, facilitate their ability to access funding and resolve potential disputes.

One of UUBO’s notable Fintech clients is Branch International, a digital financial services platform that has over 200,000 users in Nigeria and disbursed N1 billion loans as of June 2018.  According to Chambers, UUBO advised Branch International “on the regulatory implications of and the obtaining of a licence for the introduction of a mobile lending platform in Nigeria.” Other clients UUBO has advised with regard to Fintech transactions are London-headquartered HSBC and Fintier Payment Limited.

Building on the established reputation of its Telecommunications, Media and Technology team, headed by Partner, Jumoke Lambo, UUBO has now achieved the highest number of top-tier lawyers in Chambers’ maiden Fintech rankings for Nigeria.  Yinka Edu, Partner and head of UUBO's Fintech team; Folake Elias-Adebowale, Partner and co-head of the firm's M&A and Private Equity teams; and Tolulope Osindero, Senior Associate in the firm's Fintech team, have been recognised by Chambers for their exceptional talent in advising clients in the Fintech space.

Yinka Edu and Tolu Osindero contributed the chapter on Nigeria in the International Comparative Legal Guide to Fintech 2018. Based in London, the publication covers 44 jurisdictions – including Nigeria – and 6 areas of legal practice: Fintech Landscape, Funding for Fintech, Fintech Regulation, Other Regulatory Regimes/Non-Financial Regulation, Accessing Talent and Technology.  The Nigerian chapter of the ICLG to Fintech 2018 discusses the regulatory framework for Fintech businesses operating in the country; notable Fintech innovation trends; as well as the different categories of Fintech business that are active in the jurisdiction. It also looks at funding in the Fintech space.  Critical to fostering innovation and invention is the protection of intellectual property (IP). Hence, the chapter also explores the state of IP rights protection in Nigeria and the effective commercialisation of IP assets.

In an interview with Financial Nigeria last month, newly-elevated Senior Partner, Dan Agbor, emphasised the firm’s policy of training its people as a way of preparing for the future.  According to Dan, UUBO’s most highly prioritised investment is in its people.  Another way in which UUBO might have already positioned itself for the future is through its market-leading, multi-specialisation legal offerings across the Nigerian Fintech space.

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