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Coffee Break Catch Up with…Hannah Lopez

Hannah Lopez

From time to time, we speak with one of our lawyers to get their views on current issues and/or trending developments relating to their practice area, as well as the markets and jurisdictions they’re operating within.

To kick off 2022, Hannah Lopez, provides her thoughts on the the FinTech sector past, present and future. Hannah is an Associate within the Financial Services Department with a keen interest and growing expertise in all legal matters relating to the FinTech arena.

Q: What does the coming year look like for the FinTech industry in Gibraltar?

A: The success of the regulated FinTech industry in Gibraltar has been benchmarked by the Financial Services (Distributed Ledger Technology Providers) Regulations (the “DLT Regulations”) 2020, sculpting the regulatory landscape. These well-established regulations continue to attract quality firms wanting to operate using best practices and within a regulated environment.

The potential of Distributed Ledger Technology (“DLT”) and its ability to enhance the way businesses operate has been showcased by the rapid expansion and exponential growth of the crypto sector. We have seen, over the last few years, the development of new products and services being offered by Gibraltar virtual asset service providers, under the supervision of the GFSC who are always keen to work closely with Gibraltar regulated virtual asset service providers so that they are able to launch new products that are in keeping with market demands in as safe a way as possible. Recently, on the 7th December 2021, the Government of Gibraltar announced that it is exploring the integration of blockchain technology into its electronic systems.

Q: Have there been, or are there expected to be, any new pieces of legislation in your area of practice and what benefits may this offer Gibraltar?

A: The Proceeds of Crime Act 2015 (Relevant Financial Business) (Registration) Regulations 2021 came into force in March of last year. These regulations impose an obligation on the following “relevant financial businesses” to register with the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (“GFSC”) for the purposes of anti-money laundering (“AML”), counter terrorist financing (“CTF”) and counter proliferation financing (“CPF”) supervision:

(a) External accountants;

(b) Tax advisors;

(c) Undertakings that receive, whether on their own account or on behalf of another person, proceeds in any form from the sale of tokenised digital assets involving the use of DLT or a similar means of recording a digital representation of an asset; and

(d) Persons who, by way of business, use DLT to exchange units of value, or arrange, or make arrangements with a view to, the exchange of units of value using DLT.

“Relevant financial businesses” will not have to register with the GFSC if it is already subject to supervision by a regulatory authority in Gibraltar.

These regulations are designed to capture token issuers and other service providers such as OTC desks or liquidity providers who would have previously fallen outside of Gibraltar’s regulatory scope entirely. Companies undertaking such business activity will now be required to register with the GFSC and show that they comply with Gibraltar’s Anti-Money Laundering provisions. Applicant’s will also have to show that the principles behind the operation are fit and proper.

Q: What opportunities do you believe Gibraltar has to offer for Financial Services?

A: There are countless opportunities which Gibraltar has to offer for Financial Services. Gibraltar-authorised financial services firms have an exclusive passporting right into the UK market which is one of the largest financial services markets in the world. Passporting rights will continue for firms operating between the UK and Gibraltar.

Gibraltar is a reputable finance centre and FinTechs as well as virtual asset service providers can benefit from the legal and regulatory certainty that our Financial Services legislation provides. In Gibraltar, we work closely with key stakeholders to protect the reputation of the jurisdiction. Our professional excellence and probity in the financial services space, and in particular around the legal and regulatory complexities presented by virtual asset service providers is first class and provides businesses with opportunities to flourish in a very exciting emerging market.


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