Regulatory sandbox

The regulatory sandbox allows businesses to test innovative propositions in the market, with real consumers.

Applications for cohort 7 are now open until 31 December 2020. See how to apply

 

The sandbox is open to authorised firms, unauthorised firms that require authorisation and technology businesses that are looking to deliver innovation in the UK financial services market.

The sandbox seeks to provide firms with:

  • the ability to test products and services in a controlled environment
  • reduced time-to-market at potentially lower cost
  • support in identifying appropriate consumer protection safeguards to build into new products and services
  • better access to finance

We closely oversee the development and implementation of tests, for example by working with firms to agree bespoke consumer safeguards.

Sandbox tests are expected to have a clear objective (e.g. reducing costs to consumers) and to be conducted on a small scale. Firms will test their innovation for limited duration with a limited number of customers. 

Regulatory sandbox tools

The regulatory sandbox provides access to regulatory expertise and a set of tools to facilitate testing. The tools are not always needed and their value will depend on the nature of each business and their test.

Restricted authorisation

To conduct a regulated activity in the UK, a firm must be authorised or registered by us, unless certain exemptions apply. Successful firms will need to apply for the relevant authorisation or registration in order to test.

We have a tailored authorisation process for firms accepted into the sandbox. Any authorisation or registration will be restricted to allow firms to test only their ideas as agreed with us.

This should make it easier for firms to meet our requirements and reduce the cost and time to get the test up and running.

If you require a restricted authorisation you will have to pay an application fee.

Informal steers

We can provide informal steers on potential regulatory implications of an innovative product or business model that is at an early stage of development. 

Waivers or modifications to our rules

We may be able to waive or modify an unduly burdensome rule, for the purpose of the test. We are not able to waive national or international law.

No enforcement action letters

For cases where we can’t issue individual guidance or waivers but believe it’s justified in light of the particular circumstances and characteristics of the sandbox test, we can issue ‘no enforcement action’ letters.

As long as the firm deals with us openly, keeps to the agreed testing parameters and treats customers fairly, we accept that unexpected issues may arise and wouldn’t expect to take disciplinary action.

The letter would only apply for the duration of the sandbox test, only to our disciplinary action and would not limit any liabilities to consumers.

Individual guidance

If you are unclear on how our rules apply to your firm, we can explain how we would interpret the requirements in the context of your specific test.