• At Kemp Little, we are known for our ability to serve the very particular needs of a large but diverse technology client base. Our hands-on industry know-how makes us a good fit with many of the world's biggest technology and digital media businesses, yet means we are equally relevant to companies with a technology bias, in sectors such as professional services, financial services, retail, travel and healthcare.
  • Kemp Little specialises in the technology and digital media sectors and provides a range of legal services that are crucial to fast-moving, innovative businesses.Our blend of sector awareness, technical excellence and responsiveness, means we are regularly ranked as a leading firm by directories such as Legal 500, Chambers and PLC Which Lawyer. Our practice areas cover a wide range of legal issues and advice.
  • Our Commercial Technology team has established itself as one of the strongest in the UK. We are ranked in Legal 500, Chambers & Partners and PLC Which Lawyer, with four of our partners recommended.
  • Our team provides practical and commercial advice founded on years of experience and technical know-how to technology and digital media companies that need to be alert to the rules and regulations of competition law.
  • Our Corporate Practice has a reputation for delivering sound legal advice, backed up with extensive industry experience and credentials, to get the best results from technology and digital media transactions.
  • In the fast-changing world of employment law our clients need practical, commercial and cost-effective advice. They get this from our team of employment law professionals.
  • Our team of leading IP advisors deliver cost-effective, strategic and commercial advice to ensure that your IP assets are protected and leveraged to add real value to your business.
  • Our litigation practice advises on all aspects of dispute resolution, with a particular focus on ownership, exploitation and infringement of intellectual property rights and commercial disputes in the technology sector.
  • We have an industry-leading reputation for our outsourcing expertise. Our professionals deliver credible legal advice to providers and acquirers of IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services.
  • We work alongside companies, many with disruptive technologies, that seek funding, as well as with the venture capital firms, institutional investors and corporate ventures that want to invest in exciting business opportunities.
  • Our regulatory specialists work alongside Kemp Little’s corporate and commercial professionals to help meet their compliance obligations.
  • With a service that is commercial and responsive to our clients’ needs, you will find our tax advice easy to understand, cost-effective and geared towards maximising your tax benefits.
  • At Kemp Little, we advise clients in diverse sectors where technology is fundamental to the ongoing success of their businesses.They include companies that provide technology as a service and businesses where the use of technology is key to their business model, enabling them to bring their product or service to market.
  • We bring our commercial understanding of digital business models, our legal expertise and our reputation for delivering high quality, cost-effective services to this dynamic sector.
  • Acting for market leaders and market changers within the media industry, we combine in-depth knowledge of the structural technology that underpins content delivery and the impact of digitisation on the rights of producers and consumers.
  • We understand the risks facing this sector and work with our clients to conquer those challenges. Testimony to our success is the continued growth in our team of professionals and the clients we serve.
  • We advise at the forefront of the technological intersection between life sciences and healthcare. We advise leading technology and data analytics providers, healthcare institutions as well as manufacturers of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnological products.
  • For clients operating in the online sector, our teams are structured to meet their commercial, financing, M&A, competition and regulatory, employment and intellectual property legal needs.
  • Our focus on technology makes us especially well positioned to give advice on the legal aspects of digital marketing. We advise on high-profile, multi-channel, cross-border cases and on highly complex campaigns.
  • The mobile and telecoms sector is fast changing and hugely dependent on technology advances. We help mobile and wireless and fixed telecoms clients to tackle the legal challenges that this evolving sector presents.
  • Whether ERP, Linux or Windows; software or infrastructure as a service in the cloud, in a virtualised environment, or as a mobile or service-oriented architecture, we have the experience to resolve legal issues across the spectrum of commercial computer platforms.
  • Our clients trust us to apply our solutions and know-how to help them make the best use of technology in structuring deals, mitigating key risks to their businesses and in achieving their commercial objectives.
  • We have extensive experience of advising customers and suppliers in the retail sector on technology development, licensing and supply projects, and in advising on all aspects of procurement and online operations.
  • Our legal professionals work alongside social media providers and users in relation to the commercial, privacy, data, advertising, intellectual property, employment and corporate issues that arise in this dynamic sector.
  • Our years of working alongside diverse software clients have given us an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the software marketplace, market practice and alternative negotiating strategies.
  • Working with direct providers of travel services, including aggregators, facilitators and suppliers of transport and technology, our team has developed a unique specialist knowledge of the sector
  • Your life as an entrepreneur is full of daily challenges as you seek to grow your business. One of the key strengths of our firm is that we understand these challenges.
  • Kemp Little is trusted by some of the world’s leading luxury brands and some of the most innovative e-commerce retailers changing the face of the industry.
  • HR Bytes is an exclusive, comprehensive, online service that will provide you with a wide range of practical, insightful and current employment law information. HR Bytes members get priority booking for events, key insight and a range of employment materials for free.
  • FlightDeck is our portal designed especially with start-up and emerging technology businesses in mind to help you get your business up and running in the right way. We provide a free pack of all the things no-one tells you and things they don’t give away to get you started.

How blockchain can reshape financial services

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently published a report on the future of financial infrastructure looking at how blockchain could reshape financial services.

Noting that 80% of banks are predicted to initiate blockchain / distributed ledger technology (DLT) projects by 2017, the report identifies DLT as one of a number of emerging technologies which include biometrics, cloud computing, cognitive computing, predictive analytics and robotics that will shape the future of financial services infrastructure.

According to the report the impact of blockchain will vary according to the particular use case, for example:

  • Global payments: enabling near real-time point to point transfers of funds between financial institutions, reducing settlement times.
  • Trade finance: enabling real-time multi-party tracking and management of letters of credit for faster automated settlement.
  • Compliance: automating compliance processes which draw on immutable data sources where transaction records cannot be altered for faster and more accurate reporting.
  • Digital identity: a fully digital system for storing and transferring identity attributes which could be directly integrated into financial infrastructure, for much faster and more accurate customer identification and counterparty matching.
  • Digital fiat currencies: providing settlement to liquid, cash-equivalent tokens issued by central banks, eliminating the need for an inefficient linkage between cash and new financial infrastructure.

The report looks at a number of use cases and highlights the significant changes that could be made to current processes through the application of blockchain and the resulting benefits. Taking global payments as an example, trust between the sender of a payment and the bank or money transfer provider could be established via a digital identity profile. The obligation to transfer funds between sender and beneficiary could be captured in a ‘smart contract’, a computerised transaction protocol that forms the terms of a contract by reference to business rules codified on the blockchain. Through smart contracts, foreign exchange could be sourced from participants willing to facilitate the conversion of fiat currencies. Funds would be transferred in real time with minimal fees without the need for a correspondent bank. The beneficiary’s identity could be verified using a digital identity profile. A regulator could monitor transactions in real time and receive specific AML alerts and at any time review transaction histories stored on the ledger.

As an early stage, real-world example, Circle recently launched in the UK a free app allowing cross-currency transactions between US dollars and pounds sterling, using Bitcoin as an underlying currency. When a sender wishes to send a payment, the service charges the sender’s bank card, buys Bitcoins, sends them to the recipient’s account and makes the reverse exchange. There are no fees for the service. Customers hold their money in national currencies, using Bitcoins for such a short period of time that there is a low risk of being exposed to volatility in the cryptocurrency’s price. Circle has announced that it plans to extend this service to Euro-zone customers.

There have been regular press reports of major financial institutions taking an interest in blockchain. Recent announcements have included: UBS partnering with Deutsche Bank, Santander, BNY Mellon and the broker ICAP to develop a new form of digital cash which they hope will become an industry standard to clear and settle financial trades over blockchain, aiming for a commercial launch by early 2018; and Visa collaborating with digital payments start-up BTL Group to adapt its technology for processing interbank payments across multiple currencies with the aim of reducing costs, speeding up settlement times and reducing credit risk.

The WEF report highlights the potential for blockchain to achieve significant benefits over current processes. In the case of global payments for example, it could result in reduced costs and settlement times and more efficient KYC, AML and compliance processes. However, for these benefits to be realised, there are a number of major issues to be resolved such as:

  • consensus on the type of DLT platform across a significant number of financial institutions to facilitate economies of scale;
  • adopting common KYC processes used by banks and money transfer operators across different regulatory frameworks;
  • clarification of an uncertain regulatory environment;
  • creating a legal framework so that the rights and obligations recorded in the blockchain can be accepted as binding without the need for legacy solutions to be maintained in parallel; and
  • managing the volatility of cryptocurrencies.

By some estimates, it will be three to five years before blockchain is adopted at scale. Significant issues still to be resolved before blockchain can be applied more widely include:

  • security issues such as ensuring that distributed ledgers are secure and safeguarded against errors, building rules to prevent malicious behaviour, performing thorough end-to-end testing, verifying all code and having in place stringent IT controls to detect potential gaps in security;
  • implementing new regulatory frameworks (US regulators recently cited concerns about distributed ledger systems, including possible operational vulnerabilities not becoming apparent until the systems were deployed at scale and possible vulnerability to fraud executed through collusion among a significant fraction of participants); and
  • putting in place new liability frameworks (where liability and jurisdictional issues are not expressly dealt with by traditional legal agreements or smart contracts, it remains unclear which party will have to take responsibility when things go wrong). 

A copy of the WEF’s report can be found here.

 

Contact our experts for further advice

Stephen McGinley, Paul Hinton