The regulator is encouraging innovative tech firms to try out new ways to reach consumers as the pandemic forces a change to normal working.
The FCA’s regulatory sandbox’ approach, in place for a number of years, allows innovative firms to try out new ideas without risking consumer harm.
Three key areas - preventing fraud and scams, supporting the financial resilience of vulnerable consumers and improving access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises - have been identified as key areas for innovation.
Two application windows have been opened by the FCA for Cohort 7 of the Regulatory Sandbox and the pilot of a new Digital Sandbox initiative. The aim will be to support products and solutions that will “assist consumers and firms affected by the pandemic.”
Cohort 7 of the Regulatory Sandbox is open to authorised and unauthorised firms as well as tech businesses that are looking to innovate in the UK financial services market. The sandbox will allow businesses to test innovative propositions in the market with “real consumers.”
The Digital Sandbox pilot - launched with the City of London Corporation - aims to support earlier stage innovation where products and solutions are still in development and not ready to be tested with consumers.
The pilot will evaluate the effect that offering assistance to innovative firms has on enabling new ideas to get to market more quickly.
FCA director of innovation Nick Cook said: “The FCA is a strong believer in the positive power of innovation. Today we are strengthening the range and scale of support we are providing to innovative firms to deal with the challenges raised by the pandemic.
“Together, these services will allow us to support a wider spectrum of innovative firms, from early stage Proof of Concept development in the Digital Sandbox, to testing new products or services with consumers in the Regulatory Sandbox.
“As a regulator we recognise the need to continually experiment and learn in order to stimulate innovation. We are excited to launch this new service and by the lessons it will provide for future iterations of the initiative.”