Innovation Pathways

We help financial services firms launch innovative products and services. Learn more about the support we offer and who can apply.

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At Innovation Pathways, we aim to promote innovation by: 

  • helping innovative firms understand how regulation relates to their activities
  • removing barriers to entry through ongoing monitoring of our rules

Innovation Pathways support

Financial regulation can be complex, particularly if you’re working on a product that doesn’t fit neatly into an existing regulatory category. It may also be challenging if you’re coming to regulation for the first time with a new idea. 

Our support can help you understand the complexities of regulation. We don’t tell you how to organise your business, but we do help you understand our rules, the implications for your business model, and what you need to do to launch a regulated business. 

Our service includes:

  • guiding firms through regulation through one-to-one discussions with a dedicated case manager assigned to provide insight, clarity, and feedback on their business model 
  • supporting firms to understand our regulation and navigate our processes through customised signposting 
  • helping firms to understand whether a specific rule or piece of guidance applies to their business, through discussions and feedback with FCA subject matter experts. We can provide informal steers designed to clear up grey areas of regulation or to clarify where guidance may be ambivalent 
  • explaining our expectations of regulated firms in a clear and understandable way, making the process less complex and burdensome. To help firms in this area, we can offer pre-authorisation meetings to clarify the authorisation process and the standards firms must meet
  • helping firms who need authorisation to get assigned an Authorisations case handler after they submit their application
  • providing dedicated supervisory support for the first year after authorisation to ensure a seamless experience of our regulatory processes

Who can apply to Innovation Pathways

Innovation Pathways is for: 

  • authorised firms
  • unauthorised firms that require authorisation
  • technology providers that are looking to deliver innovation to UK consumers or firms in the UK financial services market

We accept applications from firms of any size, at any stage of development and from all sectors of financial services. You don’t need to be ready to launch (or nearly ready to launch) to qualify for our support. We can help firms at any stage of development, from the idea stage onwards – provided they meet our criteria.

We provide support to a diverse range of firms including:

  • regulated firms 
  • non-regulated firms  
  • firms that are adopting new technology to satisfy or support regulated activity 
  • technology firms 
  • start-ups 
  • established firms  
  • banks and insurers 

We have also supported a range of technologies from a wide variety of sectors:

Technology  Sectors 
  • Robo-advice 
  • Open banking – AISP/PISP 
  • Cryptocurrency 
  • E money services 
  • DLT/Blockchain 
  • Digital ID 
  • AI/machine learning 
  • Data analytics/big data 
  • P2P 
  • Digital apps and services 
  • Other 
  • Retail banking and payments 
  • Retail investments 
  • Retail lending 
  • General insurance and protection 
  • Wholesale 
  • Pension 
  • RegTech 
  • Cross – sectors 
  • Other

If you’re looking to test your innovative proposition with real customers in a live market, you should consider applying to the Regulatory Sandbox.

If you want help with early-stage development of an innovative business, you should consider applying to the Digital Sandbox, an online platform where firms can access data sets to test and build prototype solutions.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Innovation Spotlight

Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Spotlight initiative encourages firms developing innovative products in the DEI space, with a focus on the fair treatment of consumers, vulnerability, and the new Consumer Duty, to work with our Regulatory Sandbox and Innovation Pathways service.

The spotlight also aims to promote diverse and inclusive culture, governance and practices across the FinTech industry. 

Learn more about the spotlight

Contact us

If you are interested in applying for Innovation Pathways, including applications for the DEI Innovation Spotlight, please read more about our eligibility criteria and find out how to apply for support.

All Innovation Pathways applications, including those for the DEI Spotlight, are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Apply to Innovation Pathways

We’re happy to discuss potential applications and answer questions about how we support firms.

Please note, we can’t answer complex regulatory questions in initial calls or emails, and we can’t confirm whether an application would be successful.

Page updates

: Information added explainer video
: Editorial amendment page updated as part of website refresh
: Information added Additional details added to 'Who can apply' section
: Link added to Early and High Growth Oversight