The UK’s financial services regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), will make its Digital Sandbox available permanently, with effect from 1 August 2023.
Jessica Rusu, the FCA’s chief data, information and intelligence officer, announced the creation of a new permanent Digital Sandbox to support businesses and start-ups in developing new proofs of concept for products and services at the Innovate Finance Global Summit on 17 April.
The decision followed two pilots of the testing environment, which allows firms to test early-stage product development by experimenting with proof of concepts.
Until now, the sandbox has only been available temporarily to those participating in pilots and techsprints, but from August, data providers will also be able to apply to list their data on the Digital Sandbox and gain insights from its usage, the FCA said.
The permanent sandbox will offer more than 200 synthetic, public or anonymised data sets and over 1,000 APIs to enable testing and validation of technology solutions, including payments and transactions data, social media data and credit data.
Firms can apply for the Digital Sandbox from 1 August under themes such as banking, investment, lending, payments and insurance, and will be measured against several criteria, including “in scope”, “genuine” innovation, consumer benefit, readiness and “need for support”.
Firms can expect the approval process to take a maximum of four weeks.
The permanent sandbox also features a collaborative platform, to “facilitate diversity of thought, share learnings and foster an ecosystem between teams, observes and mentors”, as well as an “observation deck” to allow regulators and incumbents to view “in-flight testing at a technical level”.