The Financial Conduct Authority is set to take the wraps off its regulatory sandbox initiative with the aim of providing a 'safe space' in which businesses can test innovative products without immediately incurring all the normal regulatory consequences of pilot activities.
The development of the sandbox has been a key element in the watchdog's Project Innovate effort to boost competition in the UK's financial services market. In its first year, Project Innovate has held discussions with over 175 businesses, five of which have now been authorised to undertake regulated activities.
The FCA says the sandbox will be of interest to startups, accelerators, and technology companies that are looking at new ways to provide financial services to consumers. The idea is to provide a mechanism through which firms can benchmark their products and services using pre-approved raw consumer data while they await authorisation.
"We intend to open the sandbox unit to proposals from firms for testing in spring 2016," states the FCA. "Over the course of the next few months we will engage with interested parties to finalise the design of how the unit will operate. We will also start engaging with stakeholders regarding establishing a virtual sandbox and a sandbox umbrella company."
The regulatory body says it is currently arranging an event to take place in December, in which it will provide further details and gather feedback from interested parties.