Since the UK's FCA first launched a sandbox system in 2015, allowing Fintech companies to safely test new products on a small scale before a full-scale roll out, 16 other countries have followed suit. These countries will of course need to adapt this strategy to their own regional and national economic contexts. This approach could also promote financial inclusion, by allowing companies to safely reach previously untapped markets of middle and low-income consumers.
The hope is that Fintech companies can use these sandbox systems to address a few key concerns within this industry:
1) Compliance with legacy regulations which are currently incompatible with new Fintech products.
2) Prolonged consultation process within the network of consumers, companies and regulators.
3) Provide clarity for products which fall under multiple regulators' jurisdiction.
Regulatory sandboxes could be the key to unlocking the full potential of what is still a very new Fintech industry. By removing regulatory ambiguity and the ability to test new products in a safe and controlled environment, regulatory sandboxes are promoting more rapid innovation within Fintech.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently published a draft framework for a “regulatory sandbox”, a live, controlled environment to enable fintech companies to test their new products on a small group of users before scaling up. This can help lower time and costs in launching innovative products. The evidence generated in a sandbox enables regulators to take a view on whether these products should be deployed. It is a “safe zone” to facilitate small-scale rollouts of new products to real customers while mitigating serious risks to consumers or financial stability. It enables a “test and learn” approach where consequences of failure can be contained and the reasons for failure can be effectively analysed.