What Investors Need to Know About FinTech in Brazil – A Legal Perspective

The biggest legal challenge of a FinTech in Brazil is to handle state regulation without losing agility, according to lawyer Rodrigo Vieira, who created the Startups and Innovation area within a traditional law firm, TozziniFreire.

Rodrigo is among the most active lawyers in the area of entrepreneurship, working with startups, investors, and companies interested in open innovation. He is the co-author of the publication "Digital Business in Brazil," organized by Thompson Reuters.

More information about regulation and other subjects that matter to investors are in this exclusive interview.

In the picture: Rodrigo Vieira, a business lawyer as well as a Partner at TozziniFreire Advogados

Why do you have a specific area in your office to service startups?

Rodrigo Vieira: We are concerned about the type of law firm that will be most suitable for this new world that is developing. What kind of relationship will the professional in this world develop with a law firm?

We work with a fixed fee structure – compatible with the startup moment – so that people are paid according to what’s available on the cash desk. In fact, the goal is to add value to the startup – to enable an angel investment or venture capital.

This creates a very big intangible gain for us, which is the incorporation of the technology and culture of startups in the office. This allows us to reduce costs and be more efficient for our customers in general.

What are the main legal challenges of a FinTech?

RV: The major legal challenge lies in the fact that, as FinTech gains scale, it becomes more influential and more relevant in the financial system, so it may face regulatory challenges. The challenge is to live with it without losing the agility characteristic of a startup.

Innovation is coming at a very fast pace. We see the lawyers moving to try to help the formation of a legal environment conducive to this evolution. We see lawyers working for this, both at startups and regulators.

How is the regulation of FinTech activities in Brazil compared to other countries?

RV: The financial sector is largely regulated in most jurisdictions. It has even increased much after the 2008 crisis. Some countries are more advanced to embrace technologies in the financial sector.

In Brazil, we see a great commitment from the Central Bank and CVM (Securities and Exchange Commission of Brazil) to understand the new technologies and create the conditions for them to develop.

The BC has regulated the 100% online account, the electronic signature for exchange contracts and has been improving the rules of payment infrastructure. The CVM just released a study on FinTechs and relied heavily on public collaboration to evaluate the possible rules of equity crowdfunding.

What would you say, about Brazil's legal environment, to foreign investors who are considering investing in FinTechs in the country?

RV: It is important that the foreign investors be aware of risks of disregarding legal personality in labor matters. Moreover, taking out the bureaucracy of dealing with some public bodies, we must encourage the arrival of these investors by participating in local venture capital funds, for example, whose regulations have been completely reformed and updated recently.

This content was published in partnership with StartSe, a leading Brazilian website about startups. The portal contains the StartSe Base, the largest database of startups in the country, with more than 5,000 registered companies.