The Regulatory Sandbox allows firms to test innovative propositions in the market with real consumers. It’s open for applications at any point throughout the year. See how to apply.
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Innovation can do a lot to benefit consumers and markets. It can provide easier, more intuitive access to services, as well as supporting the future of the UK economy.
But the financial services industry can also attract high costs of entry for innovators. Those wishing to join with genuinely new ideas may require additional regulatory support.
The Regulatory Sandbox provides innovators, both incumbents and new players, with access to regulatory expertise. It’s open to applications from all sectors of the financial services market and gives firms:
- the ability to test products and services in a controlled environment
- the opportunity to find out whether a business model is attractive to consumers, or how a particular technology works in the market
- a reduced time to market at potentially lower cost
- support in identifying consumer protection safeguards that can be built into new products and services
Find out more about how to apply.
Regulatory Sandbox tests
Firms that are eligible for the Regulatory Sandbox will have a dedicated case manager to provide support in the development and implementation of a test.
Sandbox tests are expected to have a clear objective and a clear positive impact on consumers.
They are typically conducted on a small scale, for a limited duration, with a limited number of consumers.
Since its launch in 2016, the Regulatory Sandbox has operated on a cohort basis. This meant that firms could only apply during a specific application window. Whilst the cohort approach was appropriate for a testing environment, the Sandbox required changes to reflect its maturity and the lessons learned since its inception.
In August 2021, the Regulatory Sandbox moved to an always open model, allowing firms to submit their applications throughout the year.
This approach was also encouraged in the Kalifa Review of UK Fintech. Firms can now access our testing services at any point throughout the year, at the right point in their development lifecycle, at a time that works best for them.
Regulatory Sandbox tools
The Regulatory Sandbox gives firms access to regulatory expertise and a set of tools to facilitate testing. The tools your firm will need will depend on the nature of your business and your test.
Who can apply to the Regulatory Sandbox
The Sandbox is for:
- authorised firms
- unauthorised firms that require authorisation
- technology businesses that are looking to deliver innovation in the UK financial services market to UK consumers or firms.
We accept applications from firms of all sizes, at all stages of development and from all sectors of financial services. We are particularly interested in firms that want to help people, and the financial systems that they rely on, but we’re open to all type of propositions. Find out more about our eligibility criteria.
If you’re not looking to test your proposition, you might want to apply to one of our other services:
- Innovation Pathways: for firms that are not ready to test but need help understanding the FCA regulatory regime
- Digital Sandbox: an online platform aimed at early-stage development propositions, where firms can access data sets to test and build prototype solutions
If you want to test an automated advice model, read our existing rules and guidance to find out whether your business model is already covered under our framework, or whether your question is answered.
We recognise the lack of diversity in the financial services sector and we’re acting to accelerate the change needed to promote more diverse and inclusive practices across FinTech. We encourage innovators from all backgrounds to apply to the Sandbox. We also welcome applications with a focus on tackling issues associated with diversity and inclusion in financial services.
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.
We’re happy to discuss potential applications.
- email: [email protected]
Please bear in mind that we can’t answer complex regulatory questions in initial calls or emails, and we can’t confirm whether your application would be successful if you applied.