The FCA is to open up its digital sandbox to a broader range of innovative businesses, start-ups and data providers.

The digital sandbox is a testing environment that enables the FCA to support firms at the early stage of product development by enabling experimentation through proof of concepts. Alongside innovators, the permanent sandbox also welcomes data providers to apply to list their data on the platform and gain traffic and insights on its usage.

Until now, the platform has only been available temporarily to those participating in pilots and TechSprints.

The digital sandbox works to foster innovation and growth. More than half of the previous Small to Medium Enterprise participants in the pilots and TechSprints made positive developments. This includes launching new products, securing funding and partnerships, or receiving industry awards or recognitions.

The permanent sandbox is part of a range of market facing tools and initiatives the FCA offers to support innovative firms to launch new products and services. It will also help deliver the FCA’s new secondary objective to support economic growth and international competitiveness.

The sandbox will provide participants access to high-quality datasets, robust data security protection, a collaborative platform to share learnings and an observation deck to enable interested parties such as regulators to observe in-flight testing.

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Industry players in banking, investment, lending, payments, insurance, pensions and will have access.

FCA permanent sandbox: industry reaction

Dr Henry Balani, Global Head of Industry and Regulatory Affairs at Encompass Corporation

“The digital sandbox from the FCA represents a positive step when it comes to supporting innovation, and particularly for regtech providers striving to deliver technology solutions that can bring significant business benefits.

Crucially, this approach positively supports the development and testing of financial products in a safe, robust and non-market disruptive manner, where lessons can be learned. Regtech has an increasingly important role to play, with financial institutions looking to balance responding to an evolving and stringent regulatory landscape with maximising operations, which means facilitating the development of solutions that can support these institutions is vital. ”

Sheeraz Saleem, Chief Technology Officer at DKK Partners

“It is fantastic to see such a drive towards promoting innovation and business support in the UK as we aim to achieve global tech superpower status. Technology is evolving at an incredible pace. This is not something we should be fearful of, but instead, look to capitalising upon its benefits. SMEs are innovation drivers but many lack the support needed to grow and it is now time for their needs to be met.

With the support from public bodies such as the FCA, businesses across multiple sectors can look to further developing their technological offerings in areas such as foreign exchange, catapulting the UK forward in the global innovation race.

Not only will this support businesses but it will make the UK an attractive destination for countries around the world who wish to enjoy the benefits technology can offer, ultimately promoting economic growth.