FCA gives green-light for sandbox testing

UK regulator releases names of 24 companies participating in fintech innovation scheme

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has released the names of 24 companies whose projects have been approved for its regulatory sandbox scheme launched last May.

Companies that have been given the go-ahead include: BitX, a provider of distributed ledger technology that allows the international transfer of funds, the charity Citizens Advice, with an app that provides debt advice, and Trandle, which will provide an online service and app that allows the creation of verifiable commercial and personal ID on a blockchain.

Major banks are also taking part in the initiative. HSBC will be trialling an app developed in partnership with fintech startup Pariti Technologies, that will help customers manage their finances.

Lloyds Banking Group will be testing an un-named project: “An approach that aims to improve the experience for branch customers which is aligned with the online and over the phone experience,” according to the FCA press release.

The sandbox allows Fintech firms to trial their products in a ‘safe-space’ – as the regulator describes it – where they are shielded, at first, from certain compliance requirements. The FCA has promoted the project as a way to foster innovation by helping projects that do not have sufficient resources to navigate burdensome regulation.

The FCA’s Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition, said: “The FCA’s regulatory sandbox was a first for regulators worldwide and underlines our deep commitment to innovation and our willingness to think outside the usual regulatory parameters. We are pleased to announce the first cohort of firms.”

“It has been an intense process for both firms and ourselves and we are grateful for their cooperation and hard work in getting us all to this position. We look forward to these businesses bringing new products and services to market whilst we ensure that appropriate consumer protection safeguards are in place.”

Applications for the sandbox were closed on July 8th and the regulator announced it had received 69 applications. The approved financial firms range from small startups to major banks. Trials will be on a short-term, and small-scale basis. The companies that have entered the sandbox have agreed with the regulator on testing parameters and consumer safeguards.

The FCA will open up to applications from firms that want to take part in the second round of the sandbox on November 21st, with the trial expected to begin in May 2017. Find the full list of firms that were approved for the sandbox here.

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