The UK's foward-thinking financial regulator has chosen 18 companies to participate in its so-called regulatory sandbox, where they will be able to test out new technologies without breaching rules.
Launched over the summer, the sandbox is designed to foster fintech innovation while remaining under the supervisory eye of the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority.
Among the 18 companies are two banks – HSBC and Lloyds – as well as the consumer group Citizens Advice, demonstrating fintech innovation is also coming from more established institutions.
Startups make up the bulk of the first cohort, however, with almost half of those experimenting with blockchain's distributed ledger technology.
They include Govcoin, the company behind a first of its kind trial with the department of work and pensions letting benefits claimants track their spending, and Setl, a startup boasting the former boss of Barclays Sir David Walker as its chairman.
|Billon||An e-money platform based on distributed ledger technology that facilitates the secure transfer and holding of funds using a phone based app.|
|BitX||A cross-border money transfer service powered by digital currencies / blockchain technology.|
|Blink Innovation||An insurance product with an automated claims process, which allows travellers to instantly book a new ticket on their mobile device in the event of a flight cancellation.|
|Bud||An online platform and app which allows users to manage their financial products, with personalised insights, on a single dashboard. Bud's marketplace introduces relevant services which users can interact with through API integrations|
|Citizens Advice||A semi-automated advice tool which allows debt advisers and clients to compare the key features of available debt solutions.|
|Epiphyte||A payments service provider that aims to provide cross-border payments using blockchain technology.|
|Govcoin||A technology provider that has partnered with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to determine the feasibility of making emergency payments using means other than cash or the Faster Payments Scheme. The payments platform will use blockchain to allow the DWP to credit value to a mobile device to transfer the value directly to a third party.|
|HSBC||An app developed in partnership with Pariti Technologies, a FinTech start-up, to help customers better manage their finances.|
|Issufy||A web-based software platform that streamlines the overall Initial Public Offering (IPO) distribution process for investors, issuing companies and their advisors.|
|Lloyds Banking Group||An approach that aims to improve the experience for branch customers which is aligned with the online and over the phone experience.|
|Nextday Property||An internet-based property company that will provide an interest free loan for a guaranteed amount to customers if they are unable to sell their property within 90 days.|
|Nivaura||A platform that uses automation and blockchain for issuance and lifecycle management of private placement securities.|
|Otonomos||A platform that represents private companies’ shares electronically on the blockchain, enabling them to manage shareholdings, conduct bookbuilding online and facilitate transfers.|
|Oval||An app which helps users to build up savings by putting aside small amounts of money. These savings can then be used to pay off existing loans early. Oval will be working with Oakam, a consumer credit firm, and a number of their customers during the test period.|
|SETL||A smart-card enabled retail payment system based on their OpenCSD distributed ledger.|
|Tradle||An app and web-based service that creates personal or commercial identity and verifiable documents on a distributed ledger. In partnership with Aviva they will provide a system for automated customer authentication.|
An e-money platform based on distributed ledger technology that facilitates the use of “smart contracts” to transfer donations to a charity.
|Swave||A micro savings app that provides an across-account view; enables a round-up service every time a user spends money and calculates an affordable savings amount based on the user’s spending behaviour.|
The Financial Conduct Authority's groundbreaking sandbox scheme had 69 applications from firms, while a further six companies have been put forward for the next cohort when they will be ready to test their technology. Applications will open again on 21 November.
“The FCA’s regulatory sandbox was a first for regulators worldwide and underlines our deep commitment to innovation and our willingness to think outside the usual regulatory parameters. We are pleased to announce the first cohort of firms," said the FCA's strategy and competition director Christopher Woolard.
“It has been an intense process for both firms and ourselves and we are grateful for their cooperation and hard work in getting us all to this position. We look forward to these businesses bringing new products and services to market while we ensure that appropriate consumer protection safeguards are in place.”
The regulator has led the way in creating a favourable environment for creating new technology within finance – its model since been copied by several other regulators around the world.