The Digital sandbox pilot

Building on our approach to innovation, we are collaborating with The City of London Corporation to pilot a ‘digital sandbox’. This new service will provide enhanced support to innovative firms tackling challenges caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Applications are now open and close on 30 October, please visit the digital sandbox website to apply.


Our experiences and engagement with the industry indicate that developing a permanent digital testing environment would provide significant value to financial services. The Digital Sandbox pilot is aimed at trialling this environment, by providing support to products and services which are at an early stage of development. 

Data has become increasingly pivotal to the way firms operate and engage with each other and the consumers they serve. This means that longstanding challenges like data access and standardisation are increasingly a barrier for market participants and innovators. We also receive requests for support from firms which don’t match the eligibility criteria of the regulatory sandbox, but whose proposals may nonetheless deliver desirable innovations in UK financial services.

We are piloting the following features as the foundations of a digital sandbox:

  • Access to synthetic data assets to enable testing, training and validation of prototype technology solutions, for example transactional banking data sets, SME lending data and customer accounts.
  • An Application programming interface (API) market place where digital service providers list and provide access to services via APIs
  • Integrated development environment in which applicants can develop and test their solution
  • A collaboration platform – to facilitate an ecosystem of key organisations that will provide support and input to digital sandbox participants, such as incumbents, academia, government bodies, venture capital, and charities.
  • An observation deck – to enable regulators and other interested parties to observe in-flight testing at a technical level, to inform policy thinking in a safeguarded environment.

Digital Sandbox Use Cases

We will provide support to innovative firms and organisations looking to tackle challenges relating to, or exacerbated by, coronavirus. For the pilot, we have taken the decision to focus on 3 pressing areas so that we can provide the necessary support for each, in terms of supplying relevant data sets and expertise.

To apply to the Digital Sandbox, applicants must have a proposition aimed at tackling one of the following Use Cases:

Fraud & scams 

  • How can financial services firms more efficiently and effectively use advanced data analytics to analyse and detect payments or transactions which are fraudulent, or between mules? What alternative datasets could be made available to improve the models?
  • How can the network of relevant bodies, both public and private, readily share data in real-time relating to perpetrators of fraud? This data could include suspected account details, fraudulent websites, known scam typologies, scam emails and calls, and social media approaches. To what extent could improved data sharing be enabled by Privacy Enhancing Technologies?
  • How can technology be better deployed to detect patterns or other indicators of consumer behaviour which may indicate a fraud or scam is taking place and generate friction in the customer journey? Could feedback loops be built in so customers can validate or verify a warning about their transaction?


  • How can advanced analytics be better deployed to identify and manage the risk that a customer may be in a vulnerable state, or about to transition to one? How can those customers be better supported through human intervention, or other methods?
  • How can technology be used to provide or augment bespoke debt management advice to consumers, who may be experiencing, or about to experience debt challenges in order to improve; the quality of advice; the scalability of advice channels to meet unprecedented demand; or overcome the challenge of unavailability of face-to-face debt advice support
  • How can technology and/or advanced analytics be used to better manage risk and improve lending and credit services in a world of uncertain and unprecedented income fluctuations?

SME lending 

  • How can advanced analytics and data science be used to improve modelling, risk assessment or credit scoring of small and medium enterprises in an unprecedented environment?
  • How can technology be used to improve the speed and efficiency of decision making when considering access to finance for a small or medium enterprise?
  • How can existing processes be made digital, to effectively support small and medium enterprises which may be affected by social distancing or other remote working situations?

How to apply to the digital sandbox pilot

You can find further information, including the application process, by accessing the digital sandbox website. All applications should be submitted through the digital sandbox website, where you can also find a more detailed breakdown of the tools and features available.

Applications will be jointly assessed by the FCA and the City of London Corporation with input being provided by an Advisory Panel consisting of:

  • Citizen’s Advice
  • City of London Police
  • Confederation of British Industry
  • Fair4All Finance
  • Innovate Finance
  • National Economic Crime Centre 
  • ScaleUp Institute
  • UK Finance 
  • StepChange

We are taking applications from 5 October to 30 October 2020. We will confirm successful applicants and give access to the digital sandbox in early November 2020. 

Firms or individuals which do not have a proposition to test in the digital sandbox, but who want to observe or potentially be involved with a team, can register an account on the digital sandbox website to stay up to date.