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More staff than ever are working on fintech at the City regulator

Lynsey Barber
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The Financial Conduct Authority has chosen a handful of startups for its sandbox (Source: Getty)

The City regulator's team of staff working with fintech startups has grown tenfold in the last two years, it's been revealed, as it increasingly looks at the implications of technology on finance.

The Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) Project Innovate scheme, which kicked off in 2014, now has more than 20 staff focused on the crossover between financial regulation and technology startups.

Combining expertise in regulation along with a grounding in technology, the FCA's executive director of strategy and competition Christopher Woolard told a conference audience their skills were in high demand and the organisation had to keep them "pretty motivated" to avoid them being tempted elsewhere.

He also gave an update on its fintech sandbox, the first accelerator of its kind by a regulator, which was announced earlier this year.

Of 69 applicants to the programme, 24 have been taken forward to the next stage of development, while 40 in total have been offered advice by the wider Project Innovate and FCA teams.

Applicants were international, including from Singapore, Denmark and the US and were from a wide range of sectors such as retail banking, insurance, financial advice and IPOs. Blockchain startups have also been accepted on the programme which is designed to help startups develop and experiment new technology within a more relaxed regulatory environment but still monitored closely by the watchdog.

The successful startups will be named in the coming weeks, while a second round of applications will begin in November.

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